Spring is here and it’s time to go to the lake or the beach again. And if you are like me, you are probably going to want to take your dog. The lake or the beach is a fun place to visit, but it can also be dangerous. So we have put together a few safety tips for every member of your family. Read the bulleted points below, then read further for more detail.
- Wear Life Jackets
- Beware of Water Anomalies – such as sneaker waves, rip currents, and underwater debris.
- Beware of Other Animals – both animals on the water’s edge and in the water.
- Wear Sunscreen
- Keep an Emergency Kit Handy
- Keep Fresh Water Available
- Beware of Heat Exhaustion
- Watch for Fatigue
- Protect Your Dog’s Feet
- Rinse Off Ocean Salt Water
Wear Life Jackets
Everyone on a boat should wear a life jacket, including your dog. Yes, they make life jackets for dogs! If you can’t find them at your local pet store, there are several online stores you can purchase from. Be sure to measure your dog for proper sizing. If you order online, be sure the life jacket fits your dog before you take him on the boat. The life jacket shouldn’t put any pressure on your dog’s throat. While your dog is wearing the life jacket, grab the life jacket at the top of the dog’s neck and lift. If you can lift the jacket more than three inches from the dog’s body, it is too big.
Beware of Water Anomalies
At the ocean, be aware of sneaker waves, high tides and waves, and rip currents. Keep your dog on a leash. If your dog is not on a leash, keep an eye on them at all times.
At the lake, beware of flooded waters. Flooded waters can be full of dangerous debris hidden underwater as well as strong undercurrents which can sweep your dog away.
At either the lake or the beach, beware of hidden objects in the water. The ocean can throw up hidden logs and other large objects. Tree branches, fishing lines and traps, garbage and other debris can be hidden among the waters of lakes or other bodies of water.
Beware of Other Animals
Other animals besides other dogs can be a concern. Wild animals may visit the shores of a beach or lake. Along the beach, there could be seals, sea lions, turtles, crabs, and more. Along the lake, there could be mountain lions, coyotes, badgers, skunks, and other animals which you don’t want your dog to mess with.
Beware of animals in the water too. At the beach, jellyfish can be a concern for you and your pet. Other sea life can be a danger as well. Some poisonous snakes such as the water moccasin live near lakes.
Both you and your dog should wear sunscreen. Put sunscreen on your dog’s nose and ears and any other parts of their body where flesh shows through the fur. Take especial care with short-haired dogs. Since your dog may want to lick the sunscreen, be sure to use a sunscreen with no toxic chemicals.
Keep an Emergency Kit Handy
Other flotation items, such as throwable floatation devices, are good to keep around when you are near the water. You never know when an undercurrent will drag someone or your pet away from the shore, or if a person or a dog swims away from the shore and finds that they are too tired to swim back. Consult a dog organization which teaches dogs water rescue in order to find out what sort of throwable floatation device works best for a dog.
Keep a standard first aid kit available. A standard first aid kit should include various sized bandages, sterile gauze, scissors, tweezers, saline solution, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, and a first aid instruction booklet for both people and for dogs. Your vet may know where you can find a first aid booklet for dogs. Other good things to keep handy when near the water are towels, fresh water, and aloe for sunburns.
Keep Fresh Water Available
If at all possible, don’t let your dog drink ocean or lake water. Ocean water contains a lot of salt which can make your dog sick. Too much can even cause death. Lake water contains all sorts of parasites, bacteria, and viruses which can make your dog sick.
Beware of Heat Exhaustion
Look for signs in heat exhaustion such as heavier than normal panting, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, weakness, warm dry skin, and/or red flushed skin on the inside of the dog’s ears. If your dog is showing signs of heat exhaustion, giving them water to drink is not sufficient in preventing a heat stroke. Get your dog out of the sun and in a cool place as soon as possible. Use cooling methods such cool water, ice, or ice packs. Don’t put the ice directly onto the dog. Wrap it in a towel or other type of cloth and rest it against their skin. Get your dog to a vet immediately.
The best treatment for heat exhaustion is prevention. Keep your dog hydrated. Don’t let them overwork themselves. Provide a shaded place for them to rest every now and then.
Watch for Fatigue
Some dogs really really love to play fetch. So much so, that they will still act like and want to fetch the ball even though they are tired. Stop playing with your dog if they show signs of fatigue. Signs of fatigue are similar to signs of heat exhaustion – i.e. heavy panting, dizziness, weakness.
There is no need to throw the dog’s ball or toy so far out into the water. You probably want to give your dog a challenge, but even a young healthy dog can get tired. Only throw the ball as far as you are willing to go out and swim for it yourself. Remember, the point of throwing the ball into the water is to give your dog fun and exercise. Throwing the ball more often instead of throwing it further is safer.
Protect Your Dog’s Feet
Keep an eye on your dog’s feet. Hot sand, rocks, glass, and other things found on a beach or lake shore can hurt them. If your dog will allow it, have them wear protective foot gear. If not, just keep an eye out. Keeping your dog leashed is the best way to keep them from stepping onto something harmful.
Rinse Off Ocean Salt Water
Rinse ocean water off of your dog after fun at the beach. Salty water in their coat can cause irritation to their skin. Rinse their ears out too. Consider using an ear cleaning solution which you can get from your vet. This will help flush out any sand or other debris as well as any salt water still in the ear.
Enjoy your spring and summer while being mindful of safety for both yourself, your family, and your dog.