Whether you are dipping your toes while sitting on the dock, quenching your thirst in the heat or strolling on the beach admiring the sunset, water is an essential part of summer. Creating lasting memories with your family is a great way to spend your summer months, and it is always important to encourage water safety. 

Most people are not aware of the precautions you should take, so here are some water safety recommendations. 

Please keep in mind that there are nearly 40,000 water-related pet fatalities recorded every summer. Do not allow your pet to become one of them if you can prevent it.

 

Some basic tips

Start small —If your dog is new to swimming or perhaps doesn’t seem to like water, make sure you introduce them slowly. Consider purchasing a “kiddie” pool to allow your dog to become comfortable in the water. 

You may also try walking with your dog in the shallow end of a pool or lake. 

Do your research — Some dog breeds have physical limitations that inhibit them from swimming; others simply don’t enjoy being in the water. Read up on your breed, and evaluate how your pet does with bodies of water or pools.

Don’t push it — Many people playfully toss their dogs in the water and assume they will naturally start swimming. Forcing your pet into the water can be a traumatic experience and may result in drowning. Do not attempt this!

Great escape — It is important to always make sure there is an easy way out of the pool or lake for your pet. Consider installing floating ramps. 

Life jackets — We encourage the use of life preservers, should a sudden fall into deep water occur. 

Life preservers are a must for new or experienced swimmers, as it’s very easy for a dog to become exhausted far from shore, develop a cramp or become overwhelmed by tides. 

No drinking the water —If you can avoid it, try to not let your dog drink from the water. The chlorine in pool water can make them sick, as will the salt from the ocean. 

Bacteria in lakes can also cause giardia, an intestinal infection that causes diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue and bloating. 

Keep a clean bowl of fresh drinking water available at all times.

Blue-green algae —This toxin has been found recently in lakes around Seattle, and the Washington State Department of Health has released warnings about allowing your pets to swim or drink from bodies of water you are suspicious of housing these toxic algal blooms. 

These blooms can vary in color: green, red, blue or brown. The blooms will appear as foam, scum or streaks in the water and can cause severe signs in as little as 10 minutes to 10 hours after exposure. 

Look for these signs: lethargy, inappetance (lack of appetite), vomiting, stumbling, seizures or tremors, general weakness, excessive drooling, diarrhea or paralysis. Should you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian right away.

Shower time —Always give your pet a rinse post-swim to get out chlorine, as well as bacteria or dirt. 

Don’t keep a wet collar on your pet, as hot spots may develop. 

Especially if you suspect that your pet has been in an area where there has been exposure to toxic algae, do not let your pet lick their fur! 

Always wash your hands after bathing your pets, as some diseases, such as giardia and toxic algae can be passed along to humans.

 

MEGAN L. FOUCH is the office manager at the Madison Park Veterinary Hospital (www.madisonparkvet.com).