You’ve likely been the recipient of one, a boil water alert issued as a result of a broken water main, issues with pumps, or even after scheduled maintenance in your area. These losses in water pressure lead to concerns of contaminants seeping into pipes and allowing pathogens into the water supply with the potential to cause illnesses.
While inconvenient, it’s not that unusual. What many people fail to think about, however, is that these precautionary boil water advisories extend to all members of the family, including pets.
Caring for our Pets
According to scientists, dogs are susceptible to many of the same diseases humans are. Symptoms of drinking contaminated water include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. The latter of these can lead to severe dehydration and even death. Even removing death from the equation, there’s still the fact dehydration can result in substantial cardiovascular stress, which in turn leads to increased heart rate.
Senior & Juvenile Pets
Any living being with a compromised immune system or suffering from chronic illness should take extra precautions. This goes double for the elderly or very young. And while most alerts don’t prohibit bathing in questionable water, they do caution you not to if you have recent cuts, wounds, or surgical incisions that have not yet healed. The same goes for water in your eyes, mouth, or nose. Also, brush your teeth with bottled water.
In order to make water safe to drink, you have to bring it to a rapid boil for at least one full minute before allowing it to cool. This should be done in advance for water-based beverages, like coffee, tea, powdered drinks, juices made from concentrate, and baby formulas. You can’t use tap water during a boil advisory for ice cubes either, because freezing won’t kill the germs. Any disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or parasites that may be present can be destroyed by heat.
If you’re curious as to whether using a water filter can make a difference, the answer depends on the type. Water filters used in refrigerators, ice makers, pitchers, and the type that screws on the end of your faucet won’t help. For under-sink filters, refer to the manual before assuming it’s safe. If you have cats that like to drink from faucets, block them.
Heat Kills Germs
For hand washing dishes during boil water advisories, use hot, soapy water and rinse with boiled water. For dishwashers, you should be fine as long as the water cycling through the system reaches 170 degrees. Otherwise, use the sani cycle that includes a full dry cycle using heat, not air.
For food prep, use bottled or boiled water for washing hands and rinsing foods. That includes foods for your pets. While all of this may be inconvenient, better safe than sorry.
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