With summer just around the bend, and us living on the beautiful North Island filled with many amazing lakes, rivers + oceans - I thought I'd share some tips + tricks to help keep your furkids safe whenever you head out on a water-filled adventure this summer!
First tip - Don't assume that all dogs can swim. Many dogs are not able to swim or have an extra difficult time with it, especially those who are brachycephalic. If your furkid is one who is not a swimmer, here are some tips to help teach them. Please note: that a dog’s vision decreases dramatically at night and with advancing age when swimming with your dog, don’t let him swim too far away from you, because he could get into trouble quickly and if you have special needs dog they may not make the best candidate for swimming, even when supervised.
For example dogs with epilepsy can have a seizure in the water so be sure to talk to your Veterinarian about swimming, especially if your dog has special needs.
Like humans, dogs need to learn to swim. Although your pooch will likely be doing laps in far less time than it took you, making your dog feel comfortable in the water is an important step that you should not skip over.
DO NOT: Toss your dog into the water, it can be traumatizing and isn't the safest or smartest way to introduce them to the water. A much better way to introduce them to the water is by simply tossing a toy into the water and progressively moving it further from the shore. Baby steps are a great way to introduce them to the water and help them to feel safe + comfortable there. A few more great tips to teaching your furkid to swim include:
Keep the lesson positive and stress-free for him.
Choose a quiet, shallow spot in the water.
Get into the water with him. Start at the edge of the water, and stay as long as he enjoys it.
If he doesn’t want to go, don’t force him in — especially if it’s a deep spot.
When your dog begins to paddle with his front legs, lift his hind legs to show him how to float.
Living in the beautiful North Island, many of us enjoy spending time at the beach year-round so I thought I'd share a few Ocean/Beach Safety tips as well.
Bring fresh water, for you and your furkid. You can't drink water from the ocean and neither can they. It makes both parties sick, so be sure to bring fresh water from home for all and make sure everyone stays well hydrated.
Know where your pup is putting its paws. Remember, if you wouldn’t swim in it, they shouldn't either.
Don't forget the post-beach rinse off! Things like seawater minerals, salt, chlorine, algae, pollution, etc. can irritate their fur and skin in the same way it can irritate ours. We have shower after being at the beach and so should they. Don't forget dog beaches may also have roundworm eggs, among other parasites, so a good scrub a dub dub after a trip to the beach is always a great idea.
After that shower, be sure to dry your furkids ears to help prevent any infections caused by moisture in the ears. If you're not sure how to clean your furkids ears, be sure to ask your vet to show you how to do it and what products to use to do so.
Remember, not unlike humans, dogs can also get hypothermia being in cold water. However, unlike us, they don't understand that it is the water that is making them colder. A general rule of thumb is that if you need to get out because you're cold, bring your furkid out of the water too because they are likely as cold as you are.
Learn canine CPR. Mouth-to-nose resuscitation and chest compressions could save a dog’s life in an emergency.
Keep your pal away from fish and other animals that have washed onto the shore. As we live in an area with a plethora of Salmon, in particular, you’ll want to keep a close eye and prevent them from gobbling up any salmon that may have found their way onto the shores. Many fish (including Trout, Char, and Salmon) can contain bacteria or parasitic flukes that can cause Salmon Poisoning Disease. To learn more about SPD, be sure to talk to your vet if your furkid has consumed raw fish while out on your trip to the beach.
Watch for other dangers on the beach. Not unlike humans, things like broken shells, coral, jellyfish, etc. can hurt your pet if they step on it. Unlike us humans, they don't know how to avoid them, so it's our job to be their eyes and let them know not to walk on them.
Life vests for dogs are readily available and affordable. Be sure to get your dog a life vest, not unlike humans, even the strongest swimmer can need a life vest if the tables turn fast in the ocean. It's easy for an accident to happen that knocks them out, makes them panic, or even getting caught up in a riptide. And if your furkid is a brachycephalic dog, they will need the help of a life vest even in the best of circumstances.
If your dog panics while you're out in deep water, be sure to use a calm voice to gently guide them to a location where you can get them out of the water safely. NEVER try to swim next to them or help them in the deeper location because the panicking dog could put your safety at risk.
If you have a boating adventure planned, make sure if you're on the boat overnight to keep them confined during the nighttime hours. If they should fall overboard at night, your odds of finding them (as it is with anyone) decrease greatly. Remember they cannot call out for help, so keep them close, and keep them safe. And don't forget those life vests!
Not unlike us humans, dogs DO often get a sunburn. So be sure to watch for signs of sunburn and heatstroke in your furkid.
Know your own strength: Remember that your dog will be much heavier when being pulled out of the water than on land, so if you’re out on a boat, make sure you know you can pull your dog back in if they fall out!
Now, some of us prefer a swimming pool to the great outdoors, so here are some tips + tricks to keep you and your furkids safe if that is your preferred water fun.
Be sure to fence in your pool. Not unlike human kids, pets do often need a small barrier or pool alarm as a pool safety measure just in case someone makes their way out and falls in unexpectedly.
Make sure you have a strong pool cover to keep it covered when not in use, like over fall + winter. Make sure it does allow rainwater to drain through because yes, dogs + kids can drown in the puddles that form on top of pool covers, especially with the amount of rain we get here.
Make sure you teach your furkid how to enter and exit the pool and make sure you do have STEPS or a RAMP that they can use to get into and out of the pool, even if you're not there.
When you're getting ready for your swim in the pool, make sure to check the temperature before you and your furkid dive in. Many furkids can't handle super cold water so make sure while it is cool and refreshing that it isn't too cold to swim in. Remember, if it's too cold for you, it's too cold for them.
Remember to not let Fido drink the pool water. Again, not unlike us humans, pool water can make them ill. So be sure to keep a dish with some fresh water available to them to consume and keep them hydrated during pool playtime.
Not unlike when swimming in the ocean, to help keep ear infections at bay, be sure to rinse your pup after swimming + dry their ears extra well.
Remember the life vest, especially if your pup is brachycephalic.
Don't forget, not unlike in the ocean, if your furkid panics while in the deeper water use a calm voice and guide them to a location where you can get them out of the water safely and never try to swim next to them or help them in the deeper location because the panicking dog could put your safety at risk.
Not unlike playtime at the beach, be sure to watch for sunburn + heat stroke.
Here in the Triports we also have some phenomenal lakes + rivers to enjoy, so here are a few tips for staying safe while out enjoying some fun in the sun, lake + river-style!
No matter the body of water your furkid is staying cool in, be sure to keep that life vest on.
Watch out for and be sure to steer clear of bodies of water with blue-green algae. It can make you and your dog very sick. Freshwater lakes and ponds sometimes have a dense buildup of blue-green algae. Under specific environmental conditions, most often during the summer months, so be sure to check for signs or other warnings on social media or local government websites as well.
Before letting Fido wade on in, be sure to check the current of a river or a creek and ensure that it isn't too strong for them or you to swim in.
Many of us enjoy lakes or rivers to go fishing, so whether it's you or someone else fishing nearby, make sure you remember to keep your dog away from fishing gear. Those sharp hooks and barbs don't just hurt us, humans, it can also really hurt your furbabies too. Watch for other fishermen on the dock so they don't get hit while they're swinging a line in or out, but also while your furkid is swimming, make sure you're far enough away that Fido doesn't accidentally chomp on the hook, line, and sinker.
Don't forget, speaking of fishing, to keep your furkid from eating any raw fish to keep them from getting SPD or any number of other ailments.
Not unlike blue algae, red tides are overgrowths of particular types of algae that occur in oceans, bays, and estuaries that give the water a characteristic red color. Be sure to steer you and Fido well clear of these events by checking social media, posted signs, or local government websites for warnings about flare-ups of these algae in local waters.
Not unlike swimming time in oceans or pools, ensure you watch for signs of sunburn or heatstroke and keep everyone well hydrated.
No matter what body of water you're in, be sure to know your own strength: Remember that your dog will be much heavier when being pulled out of the water than on land, so if you’re out on a boat, make sure you know you can pull your dog back in if they fall out!
There you have it! Some great guidelines to keep you and Fido safe as you explore our beautiful outdoor and water-filled areas this summer! Keep safe + keep cool everyone!