In our neck of the woods, it’s common to take your dog to the lake for a game of water fetch at the end of the day or on weekends. But there are some considerations for water safety, especially in lakes and ponds. As your partner in your dog’s health, Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital takes you through what you should know about water safety for dogs.
A Swimmer Or No?
Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs can swim. Long-bodied, short-legged, and flat-faced dogs are not anatomically designed for the water. So before you take your dog to the river for a paddle, make sure she can (and wants to!) swim. You can go swimming with your dog on a leash as he or she learns to swim, just make sure not to force them if they are really afraid of the water.
Lake Safety for Dogs
Being out on the lake – whether in a boat or on shore – can be a slice of heaven. Like most things, a little awareness and a lot of preparation can make sure everyone has a safe and fun time. Consider the following tips:
Don’t drink the water – Outdoor water sources can cause a multitude of problems such as giardia, parasites, Leptospirosis, and toxicity from blue green algae. Unfortunately, chemicals may also be present in the lake due to run-off. Drinking water from a pond or lake is a big no-no.
Buckle up – On the way to the lake it’s smart to buckle up, and once you’re there, buckling on a life jacket for your dog is also a smart idea. If you’re boating, a life jacket is essential, as is being able to lift your dog back into the boat if she happens to jump (or fall) out.
Back to basics – A good grasp basic obedience skills is a must before going swimming. Being able to call your dog back to you if she is heading into unsafe areas could save her life. Bring a favorite toy or tennis ball to entice her if you need to.
Don’t forget ID – On any outdoor excursion, a microchip can be your pet’s best chance of being reunited with you if she gets lost.
Don’t force it – If your dog is not interested in being on a boat or in the water, don’t force her. She can be made more fearful and anxious if pushed to do something she’s not comfortable with, which can lead to bigger problems.
Watch for hazards – Underwater conditions, drop offs, and currents can all be hazards at the lake. Be watchful for changing conditions and know your dog’s ability.
Supervision – Never take your eyes off your dog when they’re in the water!
Pond Safety For Dogs
Ponds can be great fun and lovely places to roam and explore. Just like lakes, water awareness is very important.
Blue green algae – Blue green algae is a serious and potentially fatal toxicity concern for dogs, so if you see it, prevent your dog from swimming or drinking the water.
Exhaustion – Dogs can easily exhaust themselves by swimming. An exhausted dog is at risk for drowning. Know your dog’s condition, stop before she’s tired, and make sure you give her lots of rest breaks.
Fresh water – Keep fresh drinking water available at all times, and give your dog access to shade frequently to prevent dehydration, and heat stroke.
Wildlife – Wild animals can be a concern in certain areas. Watch for snakes, skunks, bears, and other animals that might not be so thrilled with your dog’s presence.
Parasite control – With all the outdoor activity, it’s even more important that your dog be well protected from fleas, ticks, and heartworm with a year round parasite preventative.
Rinse off, dry off – Rinse your dog off with fresh, clean water after swimming. Drying the inside of the ears gently may help prevent ear infections.
Pool Safety for Dogs
Can dogs swim in pools with chlorine? Many pet owners question whether they have dog-safe pool water and, because of this, keep their dogs from swimming at home. Chlorine is as safe for dogs as it is for humans, and will not even be harmful if they ingest a little while they are swimming. Some dogs (and humans) have skin reactions to chlorine. If this happens, schedule a wellness visit so we can determine if your pup might have an allergy.
Water Safety For Dogs
A basic pet first aid course and a pet CPR course from the American Red Cross is a good idea for any pet owner, especially those with dogs who swim or enjoy being on the water in a boat.
If you have any questions or concerns about water safety for dogs, please contact us.