As anyone who spends time near the water can attest, there’s nothing more picture-worthy than a dog in a life jacket. However, this isn’t just a fashion trend — it’s one of many things you can do to keep your furry friend safe near water. Whether you’re sailing the ocean, wading in the lake or just hanging out by the swimming pool, it’s your responsibility to be your dog’s water safety warden.
Here’s what you need to know about water safety for dogs!
Do Dogs Like Water?
Just like people, some dogs love the water and others don’t. However, even if your pooch is a strong swimmer, it’s important to brush up on water safety basics.
Here are some frequently asked questions about dogs and water:
Can All Dogs Swim?
Although there’s a swimming style named after them — the simple doggy paddle — not all dogs can swim comfortably on their own, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). Take, for example, the dachshund, whose long body and short legs make it difficult to navigate deep water.
Do Certain Breeds Like Water More Than Others?
Many dog breeds, like Labrador retrievers, are thought to love water because their unique double coats make them practically waterproof. However, even some labs would rather relax on the beach than go swimming — so in this case, it’s more important to know your dog than to know general breed characteristics.
Should Dogs Swim in the Winter?
Some parts of the ocean can get pretty frosty late in the year, while lake and pool water might just freeze solid. Some dogs don’t mind the chill, but even if they’re brave enough to take a dip, they shouldn’t stay in the water for too long. You should also have a towel ready to minimize the risk of hypothermia.
Water Safety Tips for Your Dog
Whether you’re vacationing at the beach or just going for a walk by the lake, you should never leave home without a few water safety tips up your sleeve. Here’s what you need to know:
Headed to the beach? Always be aware of these things:
- Riptides: These currents can quickly drag humans and pets out to sea.
- Tsunamis: Known for their destructive nature, tsunamis can start with waves pulling unnaturally far away from the shore.
- High tide: Although a natural part of the seaside, high tide can be a challenge if your dog isn’t a strong swimmer.
- Broken glass: Often called “beach glass,” these shards often wash up on beaches or are left by litterbugs.
- Sealife: Jellyfish, sharks and other ocean creatures may scare or injure your pup.
When exploring the shore, never take your eyes off the water — especially when your dog is swimming. It’s also best to have a dog life jacket on hand.
Lake or Pond Safety
Don’t let your dog enter a lake or pond if you see algae — especially blue-green algae, which can be harmful to pets and humans, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Next, check for leeches, water bugs or other creepy crawlies.
Also keep in mind that pests like fleas and ticks often live in these areas and won’t hesitate to hitch a ride on you and your dog. Remember to pack bug spray for yourself and flea and tick treatment for your furry friend!
Swimming Pool Safety
People and dogs make great swimming buddies. However, if you have kids, make sure they don’t grab or “ride” a dog in the swimming pool, as this is unsafe for humans and pets alike. It’s also important for kids to brush up on water safety tips before joining your furry friend in the pool.
Do you have an in-ground pool in your yard? If so, consider putting up a fence so your dog can only go swimming when you’re there to keep an eye on things.
When to Stay Dry
In some cases, it’s just not safe to go in the water. For example, you and your dog shouldn’t swim during a lightning storm. You should also avoid bodies of water where snakes, alligators and other wild animals may be lurking; this often includes stagnant ponds or marshes, slow-moving rivers and coastal wetlands.
Water Woes: When to See a Vet
Although swimming can be a lot of fun, it also comes with a few risks. Here’s when you should head to your vet:
- Near-drowning: Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, there’s a chance they could run into trouble out in the water. This could lead to near-drowning — a condition that can occur after prolonged submersion, according to PetMD. If you notice difficulty breathing, vomiting, changes in heart rate or other symptoms after a near-drowning event, head to the vet right away.
- Swallowing seawater: According to the AKC, swallowing too much seawater can be fatal for dogs. It’s best to bring fresh water and a bowl to the beach with you — but if your dog won’t stop lapping up those waves, you might need to go to the vet.
- Eating sand: Your furry friend may not eat huge piles of sand, but if they grab a sandy ball or dig a hole on the shore, they can still ingest enough to cause a problem. This may lead to sand impaction, which, according to the AKC, can cause symptoms including constipation, a hard mass in the stomach area and more.
- Exposure to algae: Certain types of algae can be dangerous, especially blue-green algae. If you suspect your dog was exposed to these organisms in a lake or pond, call your vet as soon as possible.
Stay Safe on Your Water Adventures
Everyone loves a day at the beach or an afternoon lounging by the swimming pool — even your dog. If you’re preparing for a summer full of water fun, be sure to grab flea and tick treatment, a dog life vest, water toys and other supplies. And, of course, don’t forget the water safety tips.
Ready to take your dog on the best water adventure ever? Visit your nearest Pet Supermarket to gear up before you go!