Summer is officially in full swing! And as daytime temps heat up, many of us are planning trips to the river, lake, or coast with our pups. Use these pet safety tips to make sure your furry friend is appropriately geared up and ready for a fun water day!
Pet Safety Tips for Summer
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as sharing new experiences with our pets. Whether you have an adventure dog who loves lakeside camping, a SUP pup, or a beach blanket lounger, these pet safety tips can keep your summer outings fun for everyone.
Pack Plenty of Clean Water
Whether you’re hiking, fishing, paddling, or camping, we recommend always packing enough fresh water for you and your pet. That glacial mountain lake might look pristine, but drinking untreated water from ponds, lakes, rivers, and even puddles can be dangerous for pets.
Common parasites and bacteria found in untreated water include giardia, leptospirosis, salmonella, and E. coli. Not only can these contaminations harm your pet, but many are also zoonotic. That means they could spread from your pets to your family!
Unfortunately, many bodies of water may also be contaminated with harmful chemicals or toxins. This could include pesticides and herbicides from agricultural run-off or gas and oil from recreational boaters. Whenever your pet is along for the adventure, pack enough clean water for them and yourself!
Get The Right Water Safety Gear
It might be called the “dog paddle,” but that doesn’t mean every dog can swim! In fact, many dogs struggle to stay afloat. More specifically, dogs with flat faces (bulldogs, pugs, Frenchies), deep chests (boxers, Great Danes), and/or short legs (corgis, dachshunds) are at higher risk of drowning accidents.
That’s where a properly fitted life vest comes in. They help keep dogs afloat and come in bright colors that make them easier to spot in the water. Many dog life jackets also come with handles, making lifting dogs out of the water and into the boat, kayak, or SUP easier.
Finding the right fit for your dog’s life jacket is important so they don’t slip right out! Check out this guide from Outward Hound to find your pet’s measurements.
Check for Health Advisories
You may have heard of red tides of blue algae blooms. These harmful algal blooms (or HABs) occur when microscopic algae multiplies to higher than normal concentrations. They can appear green, blue-green, or reddish brown and form into foam, slicks, scum, or mats. These “blooms” are most likely to occur during warmer weather.
Toxic algae poisoning is caused by high concentrations of certain types of algae that produce toxic compounds. Unfortunately, these harmful algae blooms are becoming increasingly common across the Pacific Northwest. In Oregon specifically, dogs have become seriously ill and even died after swimming in water affected by toxic algae.
Always check for information about harmful algal blooms before you plan your water outing! The Oregon Health Advisory frequently updates its advisories for lakes, rivers, and reservoirs across the state. You can keep informed about current health advisories here.
Pet Safety Tips…
…At The River
From lazy days lounging on the banks to activities like SUPing, kayaking, and boating, there’s nothing quite like a river day. Before you let your dog go swimming, make sure to check the current. Strong currents can quickly carry dogs away from shore and into danger. If you’re spending time in one place, check around for broken glass, abandoned fishing gear, or anything that may have washed up. For example, dead fish, which can lead to salmon poisoning in dogs.
…At The Lake
Just like the river, it’s important to check your lake spot for things like abandoned fishing gear, broken glass, and other potentially harmful objects. If you’re boating, kayaking, or SUPing and don’t know that your dog is a strong swimmer, make sure they’re wearing a life jacket and/or belted into the vessel in case conditions get choppy. Always check advisories for toxic algal blooms, and don’t let your dog swim in or drink from lakes with algae floating on the surface.
…At The Coast
If your dog loves romping through the surf and sand, these pet safety tips are for you! First, check water conditions and recognize the tides. Things can change quickly on the Oregon coast, and, according to Animal Services Deputy Irene Bailey, this can create safety hazards for pets. “I’ve heard of a dog that chased a sea lion or seal out into the Siletz Bay and got stranded on a sandbar,” Bailey said in an interview with Oregon Coast Beach Connection.
It’s also important to check water temperatures. In the PNW, ocean water can stay extremely cold even on hot summer days. And, just like people, pets can be susceptible to hypothermia. If the water feels too cold for you to stand or wade in, avoid prolonged swimming sessions and make sure they’re taking breaks to warm up.
Finally, make sure your pup isn’t drinking ocean water. Even small amounts of salt water can cause tummy upset. Drinking large amounts of salt water leads to dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea. In large enough quantities, it can damage the liver and kidneys and even be fatal.
Tips for After Your Water Activities
At the end of a long day on the water, you’re probably looking forward to a shower and a nap/ But don’t forget to take care of your pup as well! Just a few more pet safety tips for when your adventure day is done:
Don’t Forget to Share These Pet Safety Tips!
Water activities like swimming, SUPing, and boating can be an incredible way to spend time with your dog. They offer exercise, enrichment, and socialization opportunities during the hot summer months. And with just a little forethought about pet safety, we can keep these adventures safe and enjoyable for our furry family members.
Be sure to follow along with our pet safety series this summer! We’ll be posting articles about water safety, hot weather safety, and more.