Keeping your dog safe in and around water

Summer is here and it’s the time many pet owners want to take their dogs to the beach, river, pool, or local lake. Water is one’s favorite place to beat the heat on a warm summer day and is also one place to have a lot of fun with your pooch (if they like water).

Safety is important. Remember, each year around 40,000 pets die in drowning accidents and not all dogs can swim and many may fear the water. Do not force a dog in the water.
Keep in mind that what can harm you at the beach can also harm your pet, so protect Fido from high temperatures, riptides, sunburn, jellyfish, sharp shells or broken glass, and aggressive dogs.

Here are a few tips to ensure a perfectly safe time at the beach!

  • Sun Protection: Some breeds – hairless, short-coated,
    light-colored breeds and dogs with pink noses – are more prone to getting sunburn. Pet sunscreens can be found at most pet stores or online. Be careful, don’t buy sunscreen that contains zinc! If ingested, it can be toxic. Your dog might also be tempted to lick the sunscreen. To avoid that, avoid products with fragrances.
  • Seawater and freshwater: Many dogs will find drinking saltwater very enjoyable but it can lead to stomach irritation, vomiting, and dehydration. Teach your dog not to drink seawater or discourage him by offering him a bowl of freshwater. Also, when leaving the beach, an immediate freshwater rinse will wash off the sand and salt and help keep your pooch’s coat and skin healthy.
  • Strong recall: If you let your dog wander off-leash, make sure he is under firm voice control and will come back to you as soon as you call him. This might keep your frolicking dog from harm if you see a danger he hasn’t noticed.
  • Waves: Unless your pup is the Kelly Slater of canines, he’s probably not a great surfer! Make sure you are aware of rip currents and undertows. Even if dogs can be great swimmers, water currents can be very strong and put them in danger.
  • Boating: Wishing to go on a leisurely cruise with your dog? Make sure he has a life jacket and that there is a secure area available, away from the edge of the boat, where you can keep your pet safe if the ride gets ruff! Secure your dogs so they don’t get overboard!
  • Pools: pools are much more dangerous for dogs than they appear. Your dog will probably merrily jump (or accidentally fall) into the cool water for a swim, but if he doesn’t know where the stairs are, he’s in trouble! Don’t let your pet play near a pool if you’re not 100% sure he knows how to get out on his own. Visible pool ramps are also a good idea and can be purchased online and in most pet stores. Don’t force it: dogs are like people in so many ways. Some love water, some hate it. Also, make sure he doesn’t have any major health issues or physical limitations that would make swimming more difficult.