Water Safety Tips for Dogs

A trip to the lake or the beach is the quintessential summer vacation.

It often means bringing along the whole family, including Fido. Whether you have a water-loving Chessie or a landlubbing Chihuahua, it’s important to be aware of the hazards your pup could face in and around the water. Follow these tips to keep your four-legged friend safe this summer.

General Swimming Safety

Before taking your pup out on the water, make sure he is a strong swimmer. While many people think every dog can paddle and fetch a stick from the water, not all dogs are good swimmers. Breeds that tend to dislike the water include Chihuahuas, Pugs, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzu, Dachshunds, and Chinese Crested. However, most retrievers and water dogs tend to enjoy a good swim.

If your pup is unfamiliar with swimming, start slowly by introducing him to the water in a shallow, still body of water. Keep him on a leash and get in with him, and never force him into the water if he is afraid. Even if your pup is comfortable in the water, always keep an eye on him.

In any body of water, it is smart to get your pup a life jacket to help him float, especially if he is very young or older. Your dog will be heavier in the water, so be sure you can lift him out if you need to. It’s also a good idea to remove your pup’s collar before getting in the water, as it can get caught on underwater branches, algae or fishing lines.

Hydration

Always bring plenty of fresh water and a bowl for your furry friend. If you don’t have enough water on hand for him, he’ll try to drink from that giant water bowl you’re playing around in. Dogs shouldn’t drink lake, pool, or ocean water as it is often filled with bacteria or chemicals that could make them sick.

Watch the Current

If you’re around the ocean or a river, keeping an eye on the current is especially important. Even dogs that are strong swimmers can get caught in a current and get swept away. Before letting Fido jump in, test the current yourself and be aware of any posted warnings about tides, flood warnings or other water safety information. Also consider recent weather: if the area flooded not long ago, there could be more hidden debris beneath the surface that could cause problems for your pup.

In Case of Emergency

Always be prepared for an emergency. When headed to the beach or lake, take your pet first aid kit and know how to perform CPR on your pup. Your first aid kit should include gauze, bandages, antiseptic, hydrogen peroxide, gloves, petroleum jelly, a rectal thermometer, saline solution, nonstick bandages, splints, tweezers, treats, a muzzle, vet contact information and a pet safety pamphlet, such as this one from the Red Cross.

After You Swim

When you’re done having fun in the sun, be sure to rinse your pup with some fresh water to get salt, algae and other irritants off his coat and skin. Also be sure to thoroughly dry Fido’s ears so he doesn’t get an infection.

Meet the Author: Kacie Galloway

Kacie Galloway is a writer from Fort Worth, Texas where she lives with her mini goldendoodle, Shiloh. She is an avid dog lover and adventurer who loves exploring the world, reading and cuddling with her dog. She often writes about pet health and loves sharing people's—and their pets'—stories.

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