Water safety tips for your pets

After reading a recent article about a pet that was not able to overcome the effects of water intoxication (otherwise known as hyponatremia), it is important to address various topics of water safety for your pets.

Playing in the water is a great way to cool off for both people and pets. But when it comes to dogs and cats especially, water can present some health issues and hazards as well. Keep them safe this summer with some of these water safety tips.

If your dog loves the water, make sure you are there to supervise their activity at all times. Always monitor your pets’ appearance and behavior. If your pet is fetching a ball from the water or diving to the bottom of a pool to retrieve an item, give them frequent rest breaks.

Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of water intoxication (i.e. loss of coordination, lethargy, bloating, vomiting, glazed eyes, excessive salivating, trouble breathing, seizures or collapsing) by observing them in the water. If their mouth is open a lot, even if holding a ball or stick, they can be ingesting quite a bit of water. Also, do not allow your dog to ingest an excessive amount of water from a hose or sprinkler.

If your dog is very active, have water with you so that you can give frequent, short water breaks to keep them hydrated. Further, after hard play or exercise, your dog may quickly empty its water bowl. Rest them for a bit before refilling the bowl and/or playing or exercising again.

 Pet owners with pools need to pay close attention to outdoor cats and dogs when they’re walking or playing near the pool in case they accidentally fall in. For dog owners with pools whose dogs like to swim, train them to find the shallow end of the pool or the stairs so they can exit the pool safely. Even dogs that are good swimmers or wearing life jackets can tire quickly and be put in danger if they can’t find their way out of the pool quickly.

If your pet has been in chlorinated, salty or dirty water, it’s a good idea to wash them afterwards. This will prevent them ingesting chlorine or disease when they are grooming themselves. Also, ear infections are often caused by water entering dogs’ ears while swimming. Pet owners can help prevent this by using an ear cleanser prescribed by a veterinarian to clean and dry a dog’s ears after swimming.

Rivers and lakes can have hazards that pet owners should be aware as well. Rivers and lakes often look safe because the water is calm, but stagnant water can carry serious diseases. Have fresh water on hand for your pet to ingest. Carry a bottle of water and a collapsible bowl for your pet to drink from. If swimming in rivers and lakes, fish hooks can get stuck in paws if stepped on, or get stuck in mouths if swallowed.

If you and your pet like venturing out in a canoe or kayak, get your pet used to the vessel out of the water first and used to wearing a life jacket. Practice capsizing so that you are both prepared in case you do capsize accidentally. For pets in speedboats, using a harness will help to ensure your pet doesn’t fall off the boat.

Like us too, pets can get sunburnt, especially those with short hair and on areas with no hair (like the ears, belly and noses). You can purchase sunscreen made for dogs as sunscreen that is used for humans, when used on dogs, can be toxic if they lick it off. If you are on the beach, or out on a boat, with your pets,  encourage them to stay under shade often and especially during the heat of the day.

Hope these tips will help you and your pets have a safe and fun summer season in, on or around the water.