There are symbols found in the human unconscious that mean similar things to all of us. According to Carl Jung, "We do not assume that each new-born animal creates its own instincts...and we must not suppose that human individuals invent their specific human ways with every new birth. Like the instincts, the collective thought patterns of the human mind are innate and inherited."
In their book Symbols of Transformation in Dreams, Jean Dalby Clift and Wallace B. Clift talk about water as being a universal symbol that can represent various things. It one instance it creates an image of change and fluidity. It is alive and full of energy. In another instance it is slow, quiet and steady.
Water can also be destructive as in the case of a tidal wave or flood. It is also seen as an essential element of human life. It is often associated with rebirth because water is needed to make plants grow.
By looking into a body of water it is possible to see part way into its depth and for this reason it is often associated with the unconscious.
Another universal symbol identified in the Clift's dream book is fire. It is seen to be alive and dancing, changing continuously and yet constant. It has power and energy and it gives light. Although it burns and destroys it can also be seen as a symbol of transformation or change.
Carl Jung reported that some of his patients had dreamed of fires and the images turned out to represent fevers or diseases.
Other common symbols found in the unconscious are winter or ice and cold for death or sterility and light and sun for warmth and life.
Animals are also common in dreams but they should be analyzed individually depending on the character they portray in the dream and the association the dreamer has to them.
The meaning that any symbol takes on in your particular dream, can only be determined by you.