The dangers that lurk beneath water surface

Rising Teviot level has put Hawick back on a flood warning
Rising Teviot level has put Hawick back on a flood warning

This winter has already seen floods in Hawick, and further rain and snow melt has everyone on high alert.

Although flood waters are receding, there are still challenges facing animal owners.

Dogs need to be exercised in all weathers, but you should try to avoid walking along rivers with high water levels as fast-flowing currents can easily wash your pet away. If your dog does get into trouble, encourage them to swim to shore downstream – don’t go in after them and risk injury to yourself.

You should also look for debris in the water that may cut or injure your dog. Flood waters can be contaminated with sewage, chemicals and other waste, so it is important that you try to prevent pets from drinking this water. It is advisable to wash your dog’s feet after walking in flooded areas so that they don’t then lick any potential contaminants when cleaning themselves.

High water levels also mean that pets and humans may be at higher risk of leptospirosis. This is a potentially fatal bacterial infection which is transmitted through contact with animal, mainly rat, urine. It is therefore important to ensure your dog’s vaccinations up to date to help protect them from this disease.

Horse owners and farmers also need to consider the risks posed by contamination to drinking water and feed.

Forage and silage showing signs of spoilage or mould shouldn’t be fed to animals. The wet, muddy fields also increase the likelihood of mud fever in horses and foot rot in livestock, so, if possible, an area of dry standing should be found.

The mud is also a perfect environment for the tiny snails which spread the serious parasite liver fluke to sheep and cattle, so farmers need to be vigilant and consider using flukicides.