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Scott Winfield
Written by Scott Winfield
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When their dog is thirsty, most people can simply open a faucet and fill up a bowl. However, if your home is supplied by well water, it’s not as straightforward.

If you drink contaminated well water, it can cause a number of nasty illnesses—and the same goes for your dog.


We’ll also discuss the types of contaminants commonly found in well water, how to make well water safe for your dog to drink, and the best types of water to give to your pooch.

Is Well Water Safe for Dogs?

Dog Drinking Water

Drinking water that comes directly from a well may or may not be safe for a dog. It depends on what types of contaminants are present in the well water. But the bottom line is that water that is not considered safe for drinking for humans isn’t safe for dogs either.

Well water can contain any number of harmful things, parasites and bacteria, in particular. How do these contaminants get into the well water?

Microorganisms like bacteria often enter well water via rainfall, snow melt, and water run-off. Nitrates and nitrites can enter through groundwater movement, and heavy metals can enter your home’s plumbing system. Plus, if you live in an agricultural area, there is a high risk of well water contamination from agricultural run-offs.

If any of these contaminants are present in your water, you won’t be able to tell just by looking at it. You’ll need to carry out a test to determine exactly what and how many contaminants there are. Then, you can decide if the water is safe for you and your dog to drink.

If the water does not contain bacteria or parasites, it should be safe for your dog to drink.

What Types of Well Water Contaminants Make Dogs Sick?

Unfortunately, wells are a breeding ground for contaminants that can make your dog sick. While aquifers can act as natural filters for well water, not every contaminant can be filtered out before the water reaches the well. 

The most common pollutants found in wells that are capable of causing sickness in dogs are:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Giardia
  • Campylobacter
  • Shigella
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Elements such as arsenic, gasoline, or nitrate

When your pup gets exposed to something like giardia, the conditions can be as mild as vomiting or as severe as death. The most common way giardia contaminates well water is through exposure to animal feces, as giardia is a single-celled parasite that resides in animal intestines.

Like giardia, cryptosporidium contaminates well water through contact with infected animal feces. If your dog drinks water containing this contaminant, it can lead to diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy.

Again, the best way to avoid this is to test your well water and ensure it’s free of contaminants before allowing your dog to drink it.

How Can I Make Well Water Safe for a Dog to Drink?

Let’s say you’ve tested your well water and identified that it’s contaminated with giardia and cryptosporidium. Now what? Well, you could just avoid giving it to your dog. However, you also shouldn’t be drinking contaminated well water, so you need to find a solution.

The simplest way to remove these contaminants is to boil the water or disinfect it with chlorine. Yet, boiling is very time-consuming, and disinfecting with chlorine, naturally, means your water will contain high levels of chlorine.

So, the best way to remove these contaminants is to install a well-water filter system. The best types of filters for removing giardia and cryptosporidium include:

  • Ultrafiltration (UF) membranes: These filter membranes have tiny pores that are highly effective at removing contaminant cysts from well water.
  • Absolute microfiltration filters: The membranes in these filters have a pore size of 1 micron or less. This allows them to physically remove giardia and cryptosporidium cysts.
  • Reverse osmosis filters: Reverse osmosis filters remove cysts and thousands of other contaminants from well water. Just bear in mind that they can be fairly expensive.

When choosing a filter, there are a couple of things to look out for. First, make sure the manufacturer states that the filter can be used for well water. Secondly, if giardia and cryptosporidium are your main concerns, check the filter is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 or 58 for cyst reduction/removal.

Of course, you should test your well water once it’s been filtered to ensure it’s definitely safe for your dog (and you) to drink.

What Type of Water Is Best for Dogs?

Dog Drinking from a Tap

The best water for your dog is tap water. It contains all the proper nutrients and minerals, doesn’t have the same risk for contamination as well water, and it’s cheaper than buying bottled water frequently.

As we’ve covered, well water might contain harmful microorganisms, and pool or pond water is dangerous for dogs because it’s stagnant.

A dog needs just as much water as a human does, so finding ways to keep your dog hydrated is very important, but you can’t just let it drink from any source of water. 

If you live near a lake or a pond or have standing water of any kind around, you might be tempted to let your dog drink from that, but this is a bad idea.

Distilled water might seem like a safe option, but it lacks the minerals a dog needs to hydrate correctly. It’s best only to give your dog distilled water in small doses. So, stick to tap water or the water your well-water filter system provides, if you consider it safe for drinking.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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