This spring has been especially rainy in New York and New Jersey, with heavy rain showers resulting in large puddles in the park that are especially tempting for thirsty pups after a long walk. Unsurprisingly, when rainy season comes around, vet offices are getting the same phone call all the time: “My dog just drank from a puddle. Should I be worried?” Here’s what you need to know…

The long and short of it? It isn’t ideal, but in all likelihood, there won’t be serious harm. Even so, there are risks, and owners should stay vigilant during a rainy walk. The issue with rain water, even freshly fallen, is that it quickly becomes contaminated with animal droppings, environmental factors, litter — and in parking lots, antifreeze, which is toxic and can cause acute kidney failure. In terms of bacteria, dogs can contract Leptospirosis, which is spread through urine from wild animals such as deer and rodents. Studies have shown that the more rain has fallen, the more likely the bacteria is present in bodies of water — including puddles. Giardia is a protozoan that is contracted through fecal matter in other dogs and animals, and it is also found in puddles and other areas frequented by furry creatures such as popular trail hikes, dog parks, and streams. The most common symptom in dogs is diarrhea. Luckily, it’s treatable, and veterinarians will often include the Giardia test if your four-legged pal frequents such areas.

So what can owners do? Increasing your awareness is a big part it – so you’re halfway there! In addition, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian about which vaccinations are appropriate for your dog’s lifestyle. Of course, the most surefire way to prevent your dog from drinking puddles is to keep him sufficiently hydrated with fresh clean water during long walks. And our tried and true advice remains: if anything doesn’t seem right, get your dog to the vet right away.