boating with your dog: safety tips

Dr. Susan Tomlinson, Animal Medical Center I-35

Oklahoma is full of beautiful lakes, and what better way to spend the summer than on the water? If you enjoy boating, there’s no reason not to take your best friend with you. Nothing beats a warm summer day out on the boat with the companionship of your dog.  There are a few simple things you can do to make sure your day out on the water is safe and enjoyable for all.
Never allow your dog to swim unsupervised. Always keep your dog within sight and know what he is doing.  You can prevent accidents and respond quickly if you see any issues.

Make sure you provide fresh water at all times. Don’t let her lap up lake water as she could be ingesting chemicals, bacteria or parasites and it can make her very ill.

Most dogs can swim, but not all dogs like it. Many can panic when they are first exposed to water. Certain dogs, such as bulldogs or pugs, have short snouts and compact bodies that make swimming more challenging. Investing in a properly fitting life jacket can keep him afloat and keep him safe. Get a life jacket with handles so you can easily pull your dog out of the water.

Make sure you have a stocked first aid kit on your boat and that it includes items such as antibiotic ointment, a self-cling bandage, and any medications your dog may be on. Be prepared with the contact information for the nearest emergency veterinarian in case any emergencies arise.

Bring along a light SPF sunscreen for your day on the boat. Some dogs, especially short-haired breeds, can easily get sunburned and will need extra protection from harmful rays.

Your dog will need to relieve herself throughout the day. Bring plenty of doggie waste bags with you and always clean up after your dog.

A day out in the sun or water can be tiring. Whether your dog is playing fetch or swimming, be careful not to overdo it. Give your dog plenty of rest in cool, shaded areas and provide plenty of cool drinking water.

Words of Warning
If your dog is not comfortable with the water or may have challenges with swimming, a boat is not the first place to begin swimming lessons. Puppies do not know how to swim, and while they may look as if they can dog paddle, they will tire easily. Always start with shallow water to get your dog comfortable.


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