Summer 2023

Water Safety 101

Protect your dog by knowing the hazards.

Swimming is great exercise for those dogs who love it, but even the most water-ready of retrievers can get into trouble without their families looking out for them. Whether you’re heading to the pool, the beach or the lake, there are a few cautions to consider before jumping in.

Overall concerns

It’s essential to know your own dog and be aware of the hazards wherever you’re heading. Don’t force any dog into the water.

Body type: Some “top-heavy” breeds such as the English bulldog are at higher risk for drowning, and shouldn’t be around water at all without a canine personal floatation device (PFD) and you nearby or beside them in the water, watching closely.

Age and health: Puppies, older dogs and impaired dogs – even those from water-loving breeds or mixes – may overestimate their swimming abilities and get themselves into trouble quickly. Canine PFDs allow tired dogs to take a slight breather and float, but don’t take chances: Keep an eye on your dog.

Overheating: Avoid swimming during the hottest part of the day to prevent heat exhaustion. Bring fresh water for your dog to drink and offer it frequently. Watch for signs of overheating such as rapid panting, and get help sooner rather than later.

Local wildlife: It’s not uncommon for dead fish or wildlife to wash up on the shore of natural bodies of water. Various live animals, such as jellyfish, snakes and other reptiles, can also be dangerous. Again, don’t allow your pet to have access to anything hazardous, even if you have to pack up and go home.

Drowning/near drowning: Pets who venture out too far are at risk of drowning. If your pet goes under the water and you suspect they’ve inhaled any, get them medical attention immediately. Even if you think they’re okay, if they get water into their lungs, it can lead to problems even days later, which can be fatal.

Drinking unsafe water: If you spot your dog drinking water from the pool, lake or ocean, it’s time to call it a day. Pool water contains chemicals that can be toxic to pets, lakes can contain deadly bacteria and ocean saltwater makes pets dehydrated and thirstier.

It’s always a good idea when away from home to know where the nearest veterinary practice is, and the days and hours of operation, along with information on emergency after-hours care.

Swimming pools

Happy husky dog in swimming pool

Teach your dog how to get out of the pool by encouraging them to swim to the steps or swim out from different areas. If your pool has a ladder, install a safety ramp to help pets (and wildlife who may fall in) to crawl out to safety.

Ponds and lakes

Canoe paddling with dog in life jacket

Warm summer days encourage the growth of blue-green algae in lakes and ponds. The substance isn’t “algae” at all, but rather clumps of toxic cyanobacteria. Dogs ingesting cyanobacteria may show symptoms – including vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, weakness, confusion or collapse – within less than 30 minutes, and death may follow before – and even with – prompt veterinary attention.

Don’t take a chance. Do not allow your dog to swim in non-flowing bodies of water when signs of pond scum, algae or algae-like vegetation is present. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains a web page with links to cyanobacteria monitoring by state that’s worth checking out. If exposed, your dog needs to be rinsed off thoroughly in clean water and taken to the nearest veterinary hospital.

Rivers and streams

Small dog in life jacket at the edge of a river

Free-flowing water may seem cleaner than that found in lakes or ponds, but these options, too, may be dangerous. Check with local agencies to be sure the water is safe before letting your dog dive in.

Problems can include upstream contamination, cold water from late snow melt, unseen underwater hazards such as rocks, logs or branches, and swift-flowing currents. If the water is safe, look for clean, shallow areas and keep fetch games out of deeper, faster water.

Oceans and seas

Dachshund breed in life jacket standing on the beach

Many communities have designated “dog beaches” to allow canine access to water without causing problems with human beachgoers. Even in designated areas, though, check with local authorities on current conditions – make sure they’re safe before you head out.

Watch for dangerous currents and riptides, avoid visits during the hottest part of the day and keep fresh drinking water on hand at all times. Don’t let your dog ingest sand or salt water (which can lead to stomach upset), swim too far out, chase marine mammals or bother jellyfish or crabs.

Summer wouldn’t be the same without swimming, but make sure you take all necessary precautions to keep your dog safe. Happy swimming!

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Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

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Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet

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