Paddling Pup: Water Safety for Your Dog

by Angie Hultgren

The sun is out, the birds are active, and the entire family is outside. As with most Michiganders, we find ourselves migrating to water sources in order to fully enjoy the limited months of unadulterated summer fun.

If you are like my family and bring your furry friends with you on the water adventures, being aware of the preparations is key to enjoyment. First, make sure your dog is caught up on all of its vaccinations and his or her flea/tick preventative prior to partaking in outdoor adventures. Second, I’d like to dispel the myth that all dogs are great swimmers. For every Portuguese water dog, there is a pug whose belly is made of lead. Go slow if it is the first time your dog has been around water until you know their swimming ability and comfort level around water sources. The following are other precautions to keep in mind for splash time with your dog.

“Go slow if it’s the first time your dog has been around water until you know their swimming ability and comfort levels.”

Safety First

Before you get around to testing your dog around a pool or at a beach, buy a life jacket for them. Just like using a jacket for small dogs in the winter, a life jacket is a safety net that will prevent anything happening to them while they are enjoying a summer day at the lake. Like humans, dogs can develop cramps or any other injury and a life jacket is a great investment for the piece of mind that comes from preparing your family to have a safe day on the water.

Don’t Leave Them Hanging

This is a no-brainer, but I see it every year; do not leave your dog unattended by water. Even if you know he/she is a great swimmer, there are too many scenarios that could end with a call to the vet. Ensure your pup isn’t drinking unsafe water; chlorine shouldn’t be consumed and water from a lake or a pond contains parasites and other creatures that can wreak havoc on him/ her.

Keep Them Cool

The sun is more potent around bodies of water, so watch for signs of sunburn or heat stroke in your dog. Keep plenty of fresh water around, and do not let them walk with their paws on burning hot sand. If you wouldn’t walk barefoot on the surface, neither should they. If you need shade, they probably do too. Be sure to provide a place for them to cool down.

Leave the Grime Behind

Once your summer fun is over for the day and you are done at the pool, beach or boat, rinse off your dog with fresh water to remove chlorine or any new friends that might have hitched a ride from the lake. Be sure to take the collar off before you start the end-of-day bath time; it will help prevent hot spots, which are just as uncomfortable as they sound.

Whether your family enjoys hiking, beaching, boating or staying poolside, dogs love to spend summer days with you. Take a few minutes of preventative action at the beginning of the day and a few more at the end to make sure the precious summertime in Michigan is filled with fun and safety. Now let’s go get wet!


angie hultgren

Angie Hultgren spends her days as a Marketing Strategist with the Bengtson Center for Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery.  She loves family, faith and her four legged friends.   


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