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9 Tips for How to Keep Pets Safe Around Water

by | Jun 21, 2023 | Cat Behavior & Care, Dog Training & Care | 0 comments

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Dogs and cats quickly drown. While most instinctively “dog paddle” to stay afloat, some dog breed conformation types (Bulldogs, for instance) more readily sink. Water weighs down heavy coats and makes it difficult to stay afloat. In oppressive heat, wildlife braves drawing near houses to find water from swimming-pools and hot tubs. And any creature unable to gain purchase to climb out of the drink—a slippery or steep bank of the river, lake, or stream, or hard to reach the swimming-pool ladder—become exhausted and pets drown.

Here in North Texas, Lake Texoma provides a fun place to spend time with your furry friend. Boating safety means taking care of yourself with life preservers, AND providing for your pet’s safety. Many pet products companies offer doggy (and kitty) life preservers, or even doggie deck booties for non-skid paws. I’ve reviewed several for Reader’s Digest.

9 Tips for How to Keep Pets Safe Around Water

pet water safety

Pet Water Safety Tips

  1. KNOW YOUR PET. Make sure s/he can swim, isn’t afraid of loud noises, and has basic obedience manners, so isn’t a distraction and danger to the boat captain. Motors and other unfamiliar sounds (or people) could put your pet’s tail in a twist. Go for some trial runs, bringing your dog on the boat while moored, starting the engine, and checking for reaction during short exposures. Use some of the same tips for getting him used to car rides. That helps him get used to the boat’s movement, too—so you can find out if he gets seasick or not.
  2. FIT FIDO FOR FUN. Everyone, even your dog, should have a properly fitting life jacket. Life jackets for humans don’t work for pets—and kids need kid-size US Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Also, be sure you know your dog’s weight to check the weight limits of the life jacket.
  3. WEIGH THE RISKS. Be sure you don’t exceed your boat’s weight capacity by adding your pet to the crew. While the little guys may not make much of a difference, the water-loving Labs and other big dogs could tip the scales in a bad way.
  4. PROVIDE FOR DOGGY DRINKS. Pets can get sick if they drink from lakes or rivers that often contain parasites or chemical run offs, and salt water isn’t drinkable, either. Be sure to pack portable water bottles and share your own fresh water.
  5. PROTECT PAW PADS. The boat’s surface under the hot sun can get uncomfortably warm, or slippery. If it’s too hot for your bare feet, your pet could get burned, too. Make sure your pets have safe surfaces to stand. I reviewed a number of dog paw shoes to protect paw pads in this Reader’s Digest roundup.
  6. HELP HIM OUT. If the dog jumps in the water, can you get him out easily? Many doggy life jackets include handles to grab small pets, but bigger ones might need more help. Teach big dogs how to board your boat from the water. If needed, you can purchase floating devices that offer ramps, like the one below.

pet water safety ramp

Pool Water Safety

Ensure your pets (and wildlife!) can’t reach the water on their own. Just as you wouldn’t leave a child alone, always supervise even swim-aholic pets that love the water. If you plan to allow pets in the pool, remember to rinse off the chlorinated water after a swim as it can dry sensitive skin. Also provide adequate drinking water at poolside to prevent pets from drinking excess amounts of the chlorinated water. You’ll also want to teach your dog (or cat!) how to get out of the pool or hot tub by themselves.

pet water safety

  • How to Get Out. Show your pets how to find the shallow end of the pool, and where to climb out. Situate a flower pot or other visual landmark near the exit end, so pets treading water know where to swim.
  • Provide a wildlife escape. You can find several options at online stores that allow frogs, squirrels, and other critters and easy way to rest, catch their breath, and climb out. Here’s one option, below:

water safety for wildlife

  • Add A Pool Ramp. If your pool doesn’t have an exit that works for your pets, consider adding a water exit ramp, like the option below. It comes with both shorter 2.5-foot “legs” or or longer 5.75-foot “legs” to give your pet easier access out of the water.

dog water safety pool ramp

How to you maintain water safety for your fur kids? Do they enjoy the water or fear it? Have you taught your pets how to get out of the water if they fall into the pool? What are some other important issues to address?

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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!



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