When You Need More Than a PFD: The Scoop on Dog Water Safety

dog water safetyBoating the waterways is a bona fide Michigan tradition that’s a cure-all during the summer. From fishing boats and kayaks to pontoons and motor yachts, you can expect to see the lakes hopping with activity this time of year. You may prefer the smaller lakes, or perhaps you’re ready to tear up Erie, Huron, or Michigan. Whatever the case, if Fido plans on accompanying you on the water, make sure you have the following dog water safety guidelines in place.

A Natural Pastime

Everyone loves to swim in the summer, and dogs are no exception. Whether splashing around or doing the “doggie paddle” in deeper water, it’s critically important to have eyes on your dog the entire time he or she is near water of any depth.

One of the best things you can do for a pup who likes to play in the water is to provide a personal flotation device (PFD) that fits snugly around the torso. This offers peace of mind, but just remember, it doesn’t take the place of total and complete supervision.

Dogs Welcome

When enjoying any of Michigan’s fine beaches, campgrounds, and boating access sites, there are ways to keep your pet safe in the sun:

  • Check weather conditions beforehand (do not take your pet out if it looks stormy, windy, or otherwise dangerous/upsetting).
  • Ensure the boat ramp or water recreation area allows pets.
  • Keep your dog on a 6-foot leash with an accessible ID tag on the collar or harness (update any microchip information before leaving home).
  • Ensure your dog knows basic commands and is under your control the entire time.
  • Take breaks from the sun. Set up a sunshade, absorbent towels, and lots of fresh drinking water in a clean, collapsible bowl.
  • Set limits for your dog. He or she will likely stay out as long as you do, but the dangers of heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration are very real.
  • Provide a non-slip mat for your dog on a certain part of the boat where he or she can expect feelings of security and safety.
  • Discourage your pet from urinating or defecating in the water or on the beach. Train him or her to use puppy pads or a small litter pan on the boat.

Dog Water Safety

Many dogs are simply made to enjoy water sports and recreation. Others have their reservations. No matter your dog’s preference, please ensure the following:

  • Confirm that your dog is comfortable in or near water.
  • Be sure your pet knows how to handle him or herself while on the boat (practice makes perfect!).
  • Team him or her how to safely enter and exit the water (if your boat has a special ramp, train your dog to use it).
  • Prevent your pet from swimming out too far away from the boat or shore.
  • Be sure he or she doesn’t become too exhausted while swimming for great lengths or distances.

Please take extra precautions with dog water safety if you’re the proud owner of a senior canine or puppy. Also, dogs with barrel chests, shorter legs, and thick, double coats aren’t designed to swim successfully. Ensure your dog is protected from drowning with a PFD that fits him or her well, or simply leave him or her with a loved one until you get back from the water.

Experience Nature

Our fine state never disappoints when it comes to splendid waterways, but dog water safety must remain at the forefront this summer. To be sure, we can all enjoy the season much more when we know that Fido is safe, sound, and healthy. If you have additional questions about dog water safety, we look forward to speaking with you.