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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dog Safety for Your Good Buddy

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

Tanner's Favorite Gator Toy
Each year about this time I drop everything I'm doing and write a post about gator safety. It's a passion for me to help you watch out for your dog's safety around bodies of water where gators may be present. Why? I've grown up in Central Florida where lakes are all around me. Every golf course has water hazards and even these often have a reptilian resident that could take your Beagle or bigger down for his last swim. Let's not let that happen.

I'm trying to make this as fun as possible, despite the scary thought of it. If you'll read my tips and enter this giveaway, you can help share these tips via other social media to educate more dog-lovers out there. By paying it forward, you may have the opportunity to win an alligator toy (not the one pictured in this photo) and a bag of Good Buddy treats for your dog. I've got 4 toys and 4 bags of yummy goodies to go to 4 homes that want to help others learn about gator safety. 

Here are my educational pitches and helpful tips. Good luck in the giveaway:
  • During April and May gators become active just before dusk, seeking both food and mating partners. 
  • Breeding and nesting continues through early September, making Summer especially hazardous for our dogs, since gators often mate and nest in shallow water where your dog may love to romp.
  • Gators spend their days hunkering down in the mud or lying in wait in the marshy, weedy areas where they are less visible. This makes the water's edge a less safe place for Fido to play. Be vigilant in your watch and never allow water play after dusk.
  • The erratic movement of a swimming or playing dog attracts the attention of this fierce predator from a fair distance, and he may wander over--under water--to check out what the fuss is all about. When Fido starts to bark, it's all over. Gators may frequently take a dog by surprise, rising up out of the depths near a dog and hauling it away to its 'locker' deep under the water.
  • A small to medium dog is at greatest risk, of course, but larger dogs have been known to be taken by mature male gators, that can reach lengths of 12 feet and weigh nearly half a ton. 
  • If your large swimmer simply must have a dip, the safest place to swim is in the middle of a large lake during midday, where these predators don't venture as often.
  • Your best bet? Leave your fresh water swimming expeditions for cooler weather when gators are not as active. October through March is much safer. 
  • Another extra precaution to take is a super-thick life vest. Although this will not protect Fido from the strong bite of a large gator, it may give him some relief if attacked by a smaller one.
  • If you walk your dog along a fresh water area known to be inhabited by gators, always use a leash.
  • Gators can travel very fast on land; do not approach a sunbathing gator thinking it will be slow-moving; you'll regret it.
  • If you spot an adult gator (more than 3 feet in length), no matter how small, give it a wide berth of more than 15-20 feet, particularly during mating and nesting season. Do not allow your dog to bark at the gator, as this will be perceived as aggression and may provoke an attack. Leave the area if your dog ceases to bark on command.
  • If you notice a gator sunning itself on land, make some noise to alert it to your presence. Generally, this will cause the gator to retreat back into the water, giving you a safer passing.
  • If you are attacked by a gator, fight back. Go for the back of the throat, the eyes, nostrils and ears. Each of these areas are highly sensitive. The back of a gator's tongue has a flap that controls influx of water, allowing them to open their mouth while submerged. If you find yourself in the jaws of a gator in water, summon your best efforts to damage this flap. If this flap becomes dislodged or damaged, a gator will generally release you to protect himself from drowning.
  • Never, ever, feed a gator. No matter how cute or how big, he is not your good buddy. #nuffsaid
  • Finally, get prompt medical attention for any gator-inflicted injury, no matter how minor. Their mouths are heavily infested with bacteria, meaning you are at risk for infection.
Now that I'm all done grossing you out, go hug your dog and promise to always keep him safe.  Armed with this information, I hope your dog will be with you for a long, long time. Enjoy what's left of this Summer and please share the gator safety info as you enter this giveaway.

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The gator toys and treats to be given away will be photographed and shared on my social media and in the winners announcement on Friday, September 6. These toys have been purchased by me in an effort to soften the tough information above and get you to read it and learn. The Good Buddy treats have been provided by my advertiser, Castor and Pollux.
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