Water Safety for Your Pooch (Free Treat Recipe Inside)
Sunshine and beaches and pools, oh my! It’s that time of the year when the heat strikes and the prospect of cooling off in the water suddenly becomes irresistible. Before you pack up the pup to spend the day in the water with you, take a look at these important safety tips to make sure both you and you furry loved one enjoy your day in the water:
- Dogs Have a Learning Curve:
While most dogs have the instinct for doing the doggy paddle when in (or sometimes just hovering above) water, not all dogs are natural or happy swimmers. Dogs who have a heavier build or a short snout, like Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers, may be less buoyant than their lighter cousins. Even puppies who are enthusiastic about their water time need to be coached through learning to swim and to build up their stamina. To keep your dog safe, whether they are a seasoned seafarer or just learning how to float, invest in a dog life jacket. This special floating vest will keep your dog’s head above water as they swim, and acts as a backup measure for if they get too tired to make it to shore. This is an especially good idea if you will be visiting open water with a current, such as an ocean or river.
- It Might Be Everywhere, But Don’t Drink It:
Just because you pooch is up to their ears in water doesn’t mean they should be lapping it up. Drinking salt water can contribute to dehydration, pool water is treated with chemicals that can irritate the stomach, and even fresh, natural water is sometimes harboring things they should not drink. Always bring a supply of fresh water and a pet bowl so water is always available. If you catch your dog drinking questionable water, gently redirect their attention to their pet bowl until they get the message.
- Not All Water Is Equal:
While pool water is treated for bacteria and sea water is full of salt to inhibit microbe growth, fresh water sources are host to a large number of biological dangers you should be aware of before letting Fido off the leash. Giardia, a common parasite in fresh water, especially in still water like lakes, causes intestinal distress that may need treatment from your vet. E. coli, cryptosporidium and even typhoid can be found in fresh waters, with most symptoms including some intestinal distress. If your pet spends time at the beach or river and comes down with a case of diarrhea or vomiting that does not resolve itself, be sure to visit your vet to see what treatment is necessary.
- Play, Rinse, Repeat:
Not only irritating to the stomach, salt water and chlorine treated water can be irritants to your dog’s sensitive skin. To prevent the itchiness, redness and irritation that salt or chlorine can cause, give your pup a thorough rinse with clean water on your breaks from the hot sun or before heading home for the day. If your dog already has redness and irritation after a long day of water play, thoroughly rinse them off and make them take a break from the water until their skin looks better. For severe cases of itching and irritation, see your vet for a special skin treatment and maybe take a break from water sports for a while.
- Wet Ears Spell Potential Trouble:
If you think you love a day in the water, wait until you find out how much bacteria and fungi love the water! Your pet’s ears often pick up and store excess water and are the perfect warm environment to grow a yeast or bacteria colony. Not only does this make for smelly ears, ear infections can cause balance issues, hearing loss, and even organ damage if the infection is not treated. While ear infections are likely in any dog, if your dog has especially long and heavy ears they are at greater risk for creating the perfect environment for microbe growth. Once your pooch is finished in the water for the day, pay special attention to drying out their ears. Consider adding a stockpile of cotton swabs to your beach bag to help soak up excess moisture in your pet’s ears before you head home. If your pet is shaking their head frequently, their ears have a funky smell, or they show other symptoms of illness, speak with your veterinarian to test them for an ear infection.
- Pups Are Sun-Sensitive, Too:
White and short haired dogs are more likely to get burned by the sun, even in overcast days. Lightly furred areas, like ears, stomach and face, are more likely to be sun burned on all breeds. Sun burns for dogs are not just uncomfortable but can lead to an increased risk for skin cancers (just like for humans). When choosing a pet sun screen, stay away from ingredients like zinc oxide, which is toxic for dogs to ingest, and avoid formulas which are easy to lick off. One of the only FDA compliant sunscreens formulated by veterinarians is the Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets, which boasts of its unlickable formula and sun-blocking benefits.
- Always Keep a Watchful Eye:
Even with all these precautions, the best safety advice is to always be present. Dogs can get turned-around in water until they are not sure where you are on shore. Some dogs can look like they know what they are doing with their doggy paddle, but quickly lose steam once you turn your eye away. To prevent accidents, for your pet or any other little’s you may have around, make sure that pools are enclosed and have a sturdy cover to prevent sneaky dips or accidental slips. All pools should also have an easy exit method, for both two- and four-footed visitors. When visiting the beach, ensure your dog takes breaks from the water at the same time you do, both to prevent overheating and overexertion, but also to make sure they have a swimming buddy when they are in the water. Your dog may also need to be kept from eating items or getting into trouble on the shore: dead fish and other animals may smell delicious for your pup but would wreak havoc on their stomachs. Sand poses a unique danger to curious dogs as it can be accidentally inhaled, cause irritation in sensitive eyes, and may be eaten (which can cause a blockage). Keep an eye on your pet so you can redirect your dog’s attention whenever they look to be getting into something harmful.
When enjoying a day at the beach or pool you are sure to have a great time, just make sure everyone stays safe while you are there.
Peanut Butter and Banana Pupcicle Treats!
Blender or food processor
Silicon ice cube tray
Medium bowl for mixing (if using immersion blender)
1 large banana
3 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp coconut oil
Dash of honey
Blend all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. If you feel like it is a little runny, add a little more peanut butter.
Once blended, pour into your silicone ice cube mold (don’t worry about the drips) and insert into your freezer on a level surface. Wait two to four hours (depending on your freezer and how many times your kids open to see if they are done yet) and pop them out into a plastic bag or Tupperware. Done!
Your dog will love the peanut buttery smell and coconut oil is excellent for better brain function and a shiny coat. Don’t be afraid to steal a few for yourself, they are a delicious and healthy protein snack!
By Lauren Pescarus