Vet says swimming still good for dogs

A LAUNCESTON veterinarian has warned pet owners not to overreact to environmental hazards.

The warning comes after Hadspen dog owner Robyn Anderson spoke  about her labradoodle, Jess, who she believes became seriously ill after swimming in the South Esk River on January 6.

Yesterday, Jess's veterinarian, Mark Fowkes from Olde Tudor Veterinary Hospital in Prospect, confirmed the river swim most likely triggered a stomach upset and other problems, but said Jess also had unrelated health issues.

The story of Jess and her swim brought reaction from other dog owners, who also say their pets have suffered from swimming in rivers in the Launceston region.

The Meander Valley Council will this week assess if the off-lead area where Jess was swimming needs a caution sign.

Dr Fowkes said he would like to see caution signs for animals as well as humans wherever testing found river health issues.

He estimated he saw about six dogs each summer with problems from contact with unsafe water.

Australian Veterinary Association Tasmanian division president and Launceston veterinarian Amanda Chong said animals were generally as susceptible to health problems as humans from unsafe water, so pet owners should be cautious.

But she said there was no epidemic of animals getting sick from river water and swimming had benefits.

Dr Chong said swimming put less strain on the body than running, which was especially useful for older or injured dogs.

RSPCA state operations co-manager Lorraine Hamilton said the case highlighted the importance of looking out for pets.

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