Summer time fun can mean time spent at the lake, swimming and paddling about to stay cool. Maybe you’re a lifeguard–and maybe you’re pro-active and keep your two-legged kids (and yourself) safe.
What about the dog?
Dogs can drowned. While most instinctively “dog paddle” and can manage to stay afloat, some breed conformation types (Bulldogs, for instance) more readily sink. And any dog unable to gain purchase to climb out of the drink–a slippery or steep lake bank, or hard to reach swimming pool ladder–can become exhausted and can die.
Here in North Texas, Lake Texoma can be 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. A number of pet products companies offer doggy (and kitty) life preservers (like the one above–“click” the picture for more info), or even doggie deck booties for non-skid paws.
North American Safe Boating Campaign offers 5 tips for boating safety with your dog.
- 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.
- FIT FIDO FOR FUN. Everyone, even your dog, should have a properly fitting life jacket. Life jackets for humans are NOT meant for pets–and kids need appropriate 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.
- WEIGH THE RISKS. Be sure your boat’s weight capacity isn’t exceeded 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.
- 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 water bowls and share your own fresh water.
- PROTECT PAW PADS. The boat’s surface under the hot sun can get uncomfortably warm. If it’s too hot for your bare feet, your pet could get burned, too, so make sure your pets have safe surfaces to stand. Here are some more tips for keeping pets cool.
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 happen to fall in the pool? Magical-Dawg loves wading but has frightened himself a time or two when he dove after a floating toy in water over his head.
Here are some more swimming safety tips to prevent pool pet problems (say THAT fast five times!), along with first aid for drowning that I hope you’ll never need. What are some other important issues to address?
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