International Dog Day: 10 Tips for K9 Safety on the Water
One of the best parts of having a certified adventure pup is being able to take your dog with you on all your escapades. However, just like certain activities can be dangerous for humans (not that we'd stop doing them), certain adventures can pose serious risks for dogs.
For example, we've got tons of awesome photos of the Bomb Squad surfing, boating, and enjoying the beach with their four-legged family members -- and this week, we're taking a leaf out of their books and offering up some water safety tips for dogs.
With a little forward thinking, we can put the "dog" in "doggone good time" (sorry) while keeping things safe for everyone.
1. Teach your dog how to swim.
This should be a no-brainer, but we've all seen "those" parents at the beach. Not all dog breeds are designed for the water, and not every dog instinctively knows how to swim the second she touches the water. The last thing you want is for your dog to be terrified of the water after a bad first experience. (Take, for example, our team member's dog Piglet, who leapt into a lake after a toy, immediately sank to the bottom, and had to be rescued. Now she hates all water, even rain!) To teach your dog to swim, start small -- the shore of a lake or beach or the shallow end of the pool. Get in with your dog, make sure she's having fun, and once she starts to paddle with her front paws, gently lift up her rear paws until she figures out how to float.
2. Invest in sunscreen, bug protection, and nose balm for dogs.
Yeah, these are real things! Dogs are just as susceptible to sunburn and bug bites as humans are (sometimes more so), particularly if your dog has a short coat or light-colored fur. There are sprays, powders, and other skin treatments that work as sunscreen for your dog. Ask your vet about the best match for your pup's coat. And if you know you'll be out on the water in a lot of wind (lookin' at you, speed boats), a nose balm to keep your pup's snoot from getting too chapped is never a bad investment.
3. Keep an eye on your dog.
This goes for energy levels, general signs of distress, and otherwise just making sure your pup isn't going somewhere she shouldn't. Particularly in an enclosed and high-stress environment (like a boat), it can be easy to miss the early signs of distress, heat exhaustion, or other issues for your dog. Plus, your dog can't ask you for help when she needs it, so you need to know what she's up to and where she's at at all times.
4. Invest in floaties for pups who don't quite get it.
Well -- you tried. Simply put, not every dog is meant for the water. Some short-leg, barrel-chested breeds like French Bulldogs and pugs are going to struggle with maritime action no matter what we do. For exuberant adventurers and freaked-out doggy paddlers alike, make sure you get a dog-safe life vest. These dog-sized, dog-designed flotation devices often come with a handle on the top for a quick scoop out of the water if (when) your dog accidentally falls in.
5. Keep your dog away from wildlife.
Yeah, we're talking about alligators, but we're also talking about that incredibly delicious-smelling (read: godawful to humans) dead fish that rolled up on the lake shore a few minutes ago. It's cute for Instagram to get a video of your dog snapping at fish just out of reach, but what are you going to do if he actually catches one? Yeah, that's what we thought. Better safe than sorry!
6. Remove any leashes, harnesses, or other gear that could pose a safety risk.
Think about anything that could cause a problem if your dog gets stuck in the water. A leash snagging on an underwater branch, a harness that turns out to be too heavy, or even a flea collar that attracts bugs or fish when it gets too wet -- these can all cause problems for your pup in the water. A good rule of thumb is that if it's not in the advertising pictures on your pup's safety vest, take it off.
7. Assign your pup "her" spot on the boat.
This goes for the beach or the riverside too -- make sure your dog has a spot to call home, where she knows she feels safe and protected. This could be a travel-sized kennel lined with her favorite blankets and covered with a sun-blocking towel. All in all, your dog needs shade, access to fresh water, and a spot to get away from the action if she starts getting nervous. You can't exactly explain water safety or maritime law to your dog (unless he's like, a super smart German Shepherd who speaks perfect English) so make sure he has a spot to relax when things get overwhelming.
8. Have a "dog overboard" plan.
We get it, it happens. Sometimes that other dog reflecting off the surface of the water just needs to be shown what for, you know? If your dog decides to unleash her inner belly flop, make sure you have a plan for saving her furry butt. Whether that means assigning a powerful swimmer to go get her back or establishing a "rescue" system (like a floatie that she can climb up on to), make sure you know what to do when your dog inevitably tries to make friends with the fish.
9. Plan for potty breaks.
Even the best-behaved pooch can only hold it for so long. If you know you'll be spending the day on a boat (or somewhere else without familiar "grass = potty" cues), make a plan for times and places where your pup can do her business. If you're going long-distance, consider a puppy pad or fake grass spot for a comfy spot on the boat, and take the time to teach your dog to use it before you set sail.
10. After a dip, be sure to rinse off.
Lake water, salt water, river water, that mud puddle you forgot to steer Buffy away from on the way back to the car -- wild water can be GROSS. The best way to keep your pup safe from waterborne bacteria, ticks, and other icky things is with a quick rinse off at home with fresh, clean water. Plus, when it comes time to dry off, make sure to get those pesky places like the insides of the ears -- you don't want to celebrate a successful boating trip with an ear infection!
And there you have it! If there's one thing we like more than seeing people in our shades, it's seeing dogs in them too. (You can't really blame us, can you?) Wherever these last weeks of summer take you, we want to be there too. Show off your adventures on Instagram @bombereyewear and we might feature our faves on our page!