Keep Your Dog Safe in the Water This Summer

Thin-coated or dogs with short white fur need sunblock on exposed skin, such as the nose and ears, and lightweight clothing to protect the rest of their body from sunburn — or better yet, keep them in the shade of a beach umbrella. While you can find products made just for dogs, you can also make do with a waterproof children’s sunblock — just keep your dog from licking it off until it has time to soak in. Even dogs with lots of protective fur can end up with a sunburn if they have light-colored noses, by the way. Don't laugh it off: Sun exposure is a surprisingly common cancer trigger in dogs.

For boating, your dog should wear a life preserver just like everyone else on board does. Look for one with a handle, so you can easily get your pet back in the boat if he goes over the side. Life vests are also a good idea for dogs who don’t swim well, puppies and older dogs.

Finally, choose a ramp for your boat or dock that your dog can use too, and teach her how to use it.

Be Aware of Changing Conditions

Before you let your dog in the water, take a look around and heed any warning signs. Riptides are dangerous for dogs as well as people, and hungry sharks won’t avoid taking a bite of your dog given the opportunity. If conditions aren’t safe for people, they’re not safe for dogs. In rivers, be aware of currents, and in all bodies of water, look out for underwater debris. In the mountains, the beach can be hot — but the water can be very, very cold. Beware!

While no one wants a good day to end, don’t ever take a chance on the day turning tragic. If water conditions aren’t safe or if the weather turns ugly, grab your dog and head for home. The same is true if your dog seems tired or hot.

I'd rather see you and your dog live to play another day.


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