Why You Need To Filter Water For Your Dog (and for yourself)

IMG_3239Chromium-6 in My Drinking Water 

It all started last year, when on a lazy weekend afternoon my husband, a man of few words, used his verbal allowance for the day when he turned to me and wondered aloud what the level of Chromium-6 in our water might be.  Instantly I needed to know the answer to this question that would never cross my mind on its own. After digging online he showed me the following numbers that came from testing our municipal water:  

Samples: 24 

Detections: 22 

Average: 0.4 ppb 

California Public Health Goal: 0.02 ppb 

Our tap water has 20 times the safe levels of Chromium-6, a cancer-causing compound made notorious by the film “Erin Brockovich”, than the California Public Health Goal!

Why do I mention California standard when I live in New Jersey? That’s because Chromium-6, even as it has been conclusively linked to causing cancer even at extremely low levels, has safety goals set only in California! And yes, only because of lawsuits that made Eric Bronkovich famous and Californians safer. New Jersey does not have guidelines for Chromium-6 levels in tap water, despite the fact that New Jersey is a world capital of pharmaceutical industry, with its waste easily imagined to impact our water. Likely, we have no safety standard precisely because of the industry, but I digress–others can tackle the issue of Big Pharma; my interest here is in alerting you to the possibility that you and your dog might be at risk, and that you can mitigate that danger by filtering your water. 

water bowl

Clean water is indispensable to us and our dogs our entire lives.

US Tap Water Chromium-6 Database 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), which is self- described as “a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment” has been tracking levels of toxic substances in municipal water supplies in the USA. 

In 2016, a EWG report found that Chromium-6 contaminated the tap water supplies of 218 million Americans in all 50 states. EWG has been tracking levels of Chromium-6 in Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) reports, and conducting its own research. If you live in the USA, and want to know Chromium-6 levels of your municipality’s drinking water, take a look at an interactive map at the end of this post. 

Wait, There’s More Bad News 

There are several other contaminants in US municipal waters frequently testing way above safe levels. For example Atrazine, a widely used agricultural weed killer that disrupts hormones, contaminates tap water supplies for about 7.6 million Americans at potentially harmful levels. 

import from workPC 013

Puppies and pregnant dogs are especially susceptible to Atrazine in water.

Have you ever dealt with resorbed pregnancies, or irregular heat cycles in your female dogs? You might want to consider at least checking the tap water database, or better yet splurge for tap water test by an independent lab.   

As you peruse numbers for your municipality bear in mind a few facts. Not all potentially harmful substances have health guidelines, which are levels that scientists have determined will pose negligible risks over a lifetime of exposure. Some of the contaminants listed by the Environmental Working Group are unregulated, and so your water might be polluted even when it is deemed in compliance with all state and federal EPA regulations. Furthermore, safety levels for humans might be higher than they need to be for dogs, especially small breeds. 

labIn my tap water there have been 7 contaminants found above the safe levels. Six of them carcinogenic chemicals:

  • arsenic,
  • bromodichloromethane,
  • chloroform,
  • chromium (hexavalent),
  • dibromochloromethane,
  • trihalomethanes (TTHMs),
  • perfluorinated acid (PFOA).

That seventh contaminant in my drinking water, perfluorinated acid (PFOA), is a infertility disruptor! PFOA chemicals have been linked to endocrine disruption, accelerated puberty, liver and immune system damage, thyroid changes, and cancer risk. 

In addition to the seven contaminants found in my water above the safe levels, there were 14 additional chemicals found below health guideline established by a federal or state authorities but debated in scientific community as inadequate guidelines in regards to health risks. Why would state or federal guidelines be inadequate? EWG’s senior scientist, David Andrews explains: “Often times, the legal limit involves much more than considerations of health: economic costs, political costs and much more negotiation by industry lobbying groups.”   

Our BB died of pancreatic cancer and Biskit of brain cancer. Both lived to be 12, but could they have lived longer if I knew back then to filter their water? 

Filtering Water 

Based on the above facts, you should always give your dog filtered water if poured from tap, and regularly check safety of well water. Bear in mind that not all filters are equal. For example very few filter systems address Chromium-6. Whatever nasties you find in your water either by testing it or relying on the tap water database, please make sure they are indeed being filtered by the filter system you end up using. You might need to do some research. 

Water in Wet Dog Food

Anyone who switched from dry kibble to canned, home cooked or raw diet observed, among other things, that the dog drinks less water. Conversely, on rare occasion when I give my dogs kibble I am always amazed at how often I need to replenish their water bowls.

Freshly cooked, or raw diet not only provides much higher water content, but more to the point a dog receives water that came from variety of sources. The water contained in beef came from grass that most likely grew in a different region than water a carrot soaked up while growing. The colorful diversity of home-made meal ingredients tells the diverse water story, in addition to diverse nutrients. A dog fed such a diet is not relying solely on one water source- his water bowl.  

Preparing freshly cooked dog food has yet another advantage! 


The effort of cooking for my dogs is worth the assurance of giving them all best ingredients, including filtered water.


Dry Food Diet And Water Mono-Source 

It is obvious that dry dog food requires a dog to drink more water. What is potentially risky about that is relying on a single water source. What if that source is seriously contaminated with dangerous chemicals? If it is, those chemicals are not diluted in wet food, with its own water content. In other words, dogs fed dry food are at a higher risk of being affected by water contaminants than dogs fed freshly cooked or raw food. However, your dog would be less at risk if you fed him dry food and filtered water than giving him canned food, which most likely contains unfiltered water source. 

For the tap water database for the USA click here 

For Chromium-6 levels interactive map click here 

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2 Responses to Why You Need To Filter Water For Your Dog (and for yourself)

  1. Jenn says:

    What filter system do you recommend and use?


    • dignpop says:

      First, you need to know WHICH contaminant you have in your particular water supply. Only then you can choose the appropriate filtering system. Only ultrafiltration, which is a hybrid technology and unfortunately the most expensive one, addresses all most common chemical pollutants: Atrazine, PFOA, Chromium-6 and THMs. It makes sense though to first find out what you need to filter out, because maybe a simpler technology is enough to address your particular water issue.


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