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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Tips to Keep Your Furry Best Friend Paddling Safely


Let Your Dog Make a Splash This Summer with These Water Safety Tips

With all the amazing options for doggie paddling in and around Shoreview, it’s not surprising that we’re getting a lot of questions about water safety for dogs. If you are planning for your dog to take a dip while on a hike at one of the amazing Ramsey County trails or you have a boat trip planned, make sure you’re prepared to keep your pup safe.

Tips to Keep Your Furry Best Friend Paddling Safely

From puppies to senior canines, there are some things to keep in mind before your dog dives paws first into the water. From sunblock to water wings, here are some tips to help keep your dog’s adorable head above water.

Assess Your Dog’s Swimming Ability

Not all dogs are naturally strong swimmers. In fact, some can’t even keep their heads above water and themselves afloat. While it’s just plain dangerous for some other breeds because they’re at higher risk of drowning. If you have a Pug, Boston Terrier, Bulldog, or any other top-heavy pup, always supervise their swimming and outfit them with a life vest.  Even strong swimmers can fall overboard and be stunned or knocked out and unable to swim on their own, so they need a life vest, too!

If you have a puppy or a newly adopted dog, go slow and steady and introduce them to water in a stream, pond, or lake that gradually slopes, so they can go at their own pace when it comes to water. 

Stay by your dog’s side and be prepared to rescue your pup if they look like they’re struggling.

Freshen Up Your Doggie CPR Skills

It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. If you’re heading out on the boat or you’re teaching your dog to swim, refresh your memory when it comes to canine CPR. Dogs can slip overboard or get in over their heads, be prepared to jump into action if needed.  Assign someone to monitor each pet in and around the water to make sure you notice quickly if they are in trouble.

Make Sure You’re Ready with a Dog Life Vest

Before embarking on a wet and watery adventure, purchase and fit your dog’s life vest. Keep it within reach just in case something happens. If your dog isn’t the Michael Phelps of the canine world or you’re going on a boat ride, make sure to keep your dog’s life jacket on her at all times. 

Make a Plan for an Unexpected Puppy Plunge

Dogs can be unpredictable. We see dogs that jump out of cars or jump overboard. Make a plan if your dog walks the plank. If your dog decides to jump or accidentally slips off-deck, be prepared with answers to these questions: 

  • Who is watching your dog while the family partakes in tubing, skiing, or eating lunch?
  • Dogs on boats should be wearing life vests at all times, but who will jump in to rescue your dog and raise him back on-board?
  • How will your dog get back on the boat? Will you have to carry him up the ladder to hand him to someone on-deck?
  • Is your dog able to swim back to the boat if he falls overboard?

Keep a Fido-Friendly First-Aid Kit Handy

Pack your hiking bag or boat to include a canine first-aid kit. If you already have a first-aid kit, double-check that it’s ready with:

  • A blanket or large towel
  • Styptic powder 
  • Bottled water
  • A fabric or soft muzzle
  • An extra leash and collar
  • A magnifying glass 
  • A flashlight

Don’t Let Your Pup Get Burned: Sun Safety

Many pup parents are unaware that their best friends are susceptible to sunburns, too. Always coat your pup’s adorable nose with zinc-free, dog-friendly sunblock even when it’s cloudy. 

If your dog has a light coat or thin fur, rub some sunblock into their skin for additional protection and make sure to reapply as needed.

A sunburnt puppy is a grumpy pup, and over the course of your dog’s life, repeated exposure to the sun can lead to skin tumors, lesions, and other skin-related problems.

Water, Water Everywhere- Make Sure Your Pup Has Some to Drink

Don’t let your dog drink too much lake, pond, or pool water. This can result in an upset tummy, vomiting, diarrhea, or worse. If your dog hasn’t gotten his leptospirosis vaccine, it’s a great time to make an appointment!

To keep your dog hydrated, make sure he has plenty of fresh, cool water to drink. Show your pup his bowl from time to time. If you’re worried he’s thirsty but won’t drink, pour water nearby your pup. The sound of running water ignites a dog’s natural drinking instinct. Proper hydration will discourage too much pond-water gulping and unpleasant after effects.

Don’t Let Your Dog Get Hooked

If you’re planning to enjoy some fishing, keep an eye on your dog to prevent your pup from getting hooked. Never leave hooks, lures, or bait in snacking-reach of your dog. 

Restrain your dog to the best of your ability, and bring him in ASAP if your dog accidentally gets hooked.

Rinse Your Pup After His Doggy Dip

A quick rinse will help your dog smell fresh, but it will also wash any irritants off his skin. Be sure to rinse and dry his ears to reduce the risk of infection. Remember to watch out for that guaranteed doggy shake.

Never let your dog go for a dip unsupervised. Review your plan before plunging into your next adventure. Enjoy all our beautiful region has to offer while the weather’s nice and don’t hesitate to bring your best buddy by for a few treats and an exam.

Image Credit: Pixabay