Monday, August 29, 2011

Ask the Vet with Dr. Mark:
Water Safety for Dogs

by Mark Nunez, DVM
© WIlly Volk via Flickr
Dear Dr. Mark:


Our dogs love swimming and enjoy boating with us. They are well behaved in the boat and we love taking them out with us. I would like to know if there are any boating safety suggestions you have to make sure our dogs Ringo and George are always safe. We have used ski vests on them at times but they don't need them for swimming; they are good swimmers. 


We take our boat out on big lakes where it is very deep. Sometimes I worry about they get tired or swallow too much water. I guess I'm just writing to get any advice you want to pass on about them swimming in the big lake we take the boat to. I read the article about gator safety and started to worry. I do not think we have gators here in Iowa.

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Being from south Louisiana, boating was a way of life for me.  It is a wonderful place to be and since dogs were always a part of my life, they were with me to share this wonderful time.  There are several things to consider while out on the water with our 4 legged family members.  These tips are for dogs that swim in lakes (pools and oceans have there own set of pitfalls).

  • A serious health risk exists in certain parts of the country at certain times of the year, and that is blue-green algae.  Check with your local officials about this. 
  • Be sure your dogs know how to swim.  Not all dogs take to the water naturally.  They should be introduced to swimming gradually and from the shore.  Appropriate canine life-vests/floatation devices are a must when out on open water.  Vests that are specifically made for dogs are best. 
  • Something many people forget about is to have plenty of clean water for your dog to drink.  Do your best to prevent your dog from drinking lake water by making sure he drinks fresh/clean water before going in and periodically throughout the day.  These excursions usually happen in the summer time, and dehydration is a concern.  Lake water is not the best to drink, even if algae is not a problem in your area. 
  • Be aware of what’s under the surface of the water.  If swimming from shore, sharp rocks can injure paws, so be sure to inspect them frequently. 
  • Be sure to rinse or bathe your dog after returning home.  Also, be sure to clean and dry their ears. 
  • Apply sunscreen to dogs with thin coats and pay particular attention to white dogs; they get sun burned very easily. 
  • Do not push your dog to swim for prolonged periods of time.  Even with a life vest, they will get tired and need to take breaks. 
Follow these tips and you will ensure that your dog enjoys his time on the water every bit as much as you do.  Thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to ask questions. 
Dr. Mark
© courtesy M.N.
Dr. Nunez is a practicing veterinarian while also assisting patients through The Balanced Canine blog and his own online veterinary pharmacy

Have a question for Dr. Mark? Send it to LetsAdoptaDogPark@gmail.com. You can also follow Mark on Twitter.






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3 comments:



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