Making a Safe Splash with Your Dog This Summer

Does your dog love to swim? Click here for our safety tips!

Here in the Dallas metroplex, the dog days of summer are putting the “s” in sizzling hot with a streak of 100-plus-degree days. 

Got a dog who digs swimming or fetching balls in the water? Plunging into cool waters can be better exercise options than taking a hike during hot days.

But be selective where your dog can make a splash safely. Choosing the wrong body of water for play can expose them to strong currents or nasty parasites.

For your dog’s sake, avoid these tempting water sources:

  1. Lakes with blue-green algae blooms. Your dog can become very sick quickly if she swallows or licks algae off her coat. These blooms are highly toxic and can make your dog sick very quickly from drinking this lake water or licking her wet coat. The algae can cause liver damage, seizures and even death in dogs. 
  2. Ponds on golf courses or in community developments. These waters look beautiful and beckoning, but they harbor drainage run-off chemicals, such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers used to treat lawns and greens. They also may be saturated with a lot of nasty parasites.
  3. Rivers with strong currents. Your dog may be long-legged and a fast swimmer, but a strong current can quickly sweep her far from shore. She can become fatigued and drown. For your dog’s safety, always tether a long floating line to the D ring on her life vest so you can quickly rein her in if a strong current suddenly occurs.

Got a backyard pool – or access to one? Using treats and praise, train your canine pal to always use the steps to enter and exit the pool. Always supervise your dog during pool time play and definitely install a fence around your pool. 

Is your dog your first mate on a paddleboard or kayak? Help your dog gain her ‘sea legs’ on shore first by having her practice her “sit” and “stay” cues as you gently rock the kayak or paddleboard back and forth. Always fit her in a life vest with an easy-to-grab handle. Practice in shallow waters to determine how steady she is before venturing out into deeper waters. 

After water play, quickly rinse your dog’s coat by using outdoor showers at the beach or bringing a couple gallons of water in your car. Your dog’s skin is her largest organ and you want to keep it healthy.  Once home, bathe her by using a veterinarian-approved shampoo and conditioner, rinsing and thoroughly toweling dry. And, don’t forget the treats to make it a welcoming experience. 

Final tip: Our dogs love to please. Some may paddle or fetch balls well past the point of exhaustion and risk drowning. Prevent this by going with 10-minute water play sessions. After each session, stop and offer your dog fresh water and a chance to chill in a shaded area. 

Now, who’s ready to make a splash?

Arden Moore is the founder of Pet First Aid 4U, a best-selling author and host of the nationally syndicated radio show, Arden Moore’s Four Legged Life. Visit www.ardenmoore.com.