Water purification for animals

You know fresh water is vital to your animal’s well being. A home filtration or purification system can help ensure his next drink is as clean and healthy as possible.

Clean, pure water is becoming increasingly scarce the world over. No matter where we live, our water sources are being contaminated with a growing number of toxins, from pesticides and fertilizers to cryptosporidium cysts and heavy metals. Home water filtering and purification systems use a variety of technologies to help clean our drinking water and make it safer and healthier.

Not all these systems are the same; some only remove chlorine, for example, but don’t do anything to get rid of toxic metals, while others kill bacteria and parasites but don’t nix pesticides or other inorganic compounds. So before investing in a product for you and your dog or cat, it’s important to understand what technology it uses and how much it will actually purify your water. It’s also a good idea to have your water tested to give you an idea of what you’re dealing with in the way of contaminants. Visit the National Sanitation Foundation website (www.nsf.org) to find out which systems and products have been certified to reduce or eliminate specific contaminants; it’s important to invest in a good quality product that does what it’s supposed to do.

Which system is for you?

Here’s a look at the five of the most common water purification technologies currently on the market.

1. Carbon filter

How it works: The water passes through a charcoal filter where impurities are removed. Some of the filters include nano-silver to give them enhanced bacteria-killing capabilities. Filter cartridges must be replaced regularly to keep the unit working properly.

Product/installation types: Pitchers, countertop containers with spigots, and faucet mounted models are available.

Pros: Inexpensive and easy to install; filters out chlorine, lead, organic chemicals, radon, some parasites such as giardia and cryptosporidium, bad odors and tastes.

Cons: Won’t filter out heavy metals, arsenic or nitrites. Products vary in what they can do – some only get rid of bad tastes and odors so do your homework before making a purchase.

2. Distillation

How it works: The water is heated until it boils and turns into steam, then it’s cooled and condensed back into liquid form. Unwanted particles and solids are left behind, and microbes are killed by the heat.

Product/installation types: Distillation systems are commonly installed at the kitchen faucet, but can also be put in at the point where the water enters your house.

Pros: Rids the water of all impurities, including pollutants such as lead, mercury and trivalent arsenic. The boiling process kills microbes and bacteria.

Cons: A lot of energy is consumed by the heating and cooling process. Distillation removes the good minerals along with the bad, and many people believe this can affect the balance of these minerals in the body and may even have a negative influence on metabolism and immunity. Distilled water can taste flat.

3. Ceramic filter

How it works: Usually made of high-fired diatomaceous earth, which is composed of the cell walls of billions of microscopic algae. When water passes through the tiny pores in the ceramic, particles as small as 0.2 microns are caught. Ceramic filters are often combined with carbon filters and may have nano-silver incorporated into them.

Product/installation types: Ceramic filter systems come in both countertop and under-the-sink models.

Pros: Remove parasites and bacteria as well as asbestos and unwanted sediments. Combined with carbon filters, they’ll also remove lead and other materials. The inclusion of nano-silver controls the re-growth of bacteria trapped in the ceramic pores by releasing neutralizing positive metal ions.

Cons: The ceramic filters are delicate and need to be cleaned regularly.

4. Reverse osmosis

How it works: The water is pushed through a very fine semi-permeable membrane that traps particles, bacteria, pollutants, minerals and sediments. The unwanted materials stay on the other side of the membrane and are flushed away.

Product/installation type: Can either be installed under the sink or at the point where water enters your home.

Pros: Removes most pollutants, parasites and bacteria, nitrates, perchlorate, industrial chemicals, chlorine, arsenic, asbestos, and dissolved ions and metals that other filters can’t catch.

Cons: Reverse osmosis systems use a lot of water – in fact, they consume more than they filter. They won’t remove radon or all pesticides.

5. Ultraviolet light

How it works: Unlike filter systems, these use a high-frequency UV light bulb to disinfect water by killing pathogens.

Product/installation type: Come in under-the-sink models, or can be installed where the water enters your house.

Pros: Gets rid of bacteria, viruses and protozoa, including giardia and cryptosporidium.

Cons: Only kills living organisms and doesn’t get rid of unwanted minerals or metals, so you need another type of filter system to work in conjunction with it. UV systems are expensive and can start at $500 or more. They also use electricity continuously.

The price of convenience

It used to be that bottled water was regarded as the ultimate in purity. Not any more. Studies have shown that a lot of bottled water is no better than the water that comes out of your tap. Concerns have also arisen about the chemicals that may leach into the water from the plastic. And bottled water is environmentally unfriendly. A lot of resources are used in the bottling process, and recycling depots and landfills are filled to overflowing with plastic water bottles.
There’s no denying bottled water is convenient, and it can be a godsend in a pinch, but you shouldn’t rely on it on a regular basis, for either you or your animal. Filtered tap water is a better way to go and is also less expensive in the long run.

If you need water “for the road”, buy a stainless steel or phthalate-free plastic bottle that you can fill at home. You can even buy reusable water bottles for dogs.

Once you’ve done your homework and made your choice, you’ll know that you and your family – human and animal — will have access to safer, cleaner drinking water from now on. And that’s a lot better for everyone’s health!