Taryn's Wreckreation Guide: 10 Tips For Water Dogs

July 27, 2016

Since we have two labs at home, we always have to spell words like L-A-K-E, R-I-V-E-R, B-E-A-C-H and S-W-I-M-M-I-N-G. They are water dogs, and they go NUTS if they know they're heading out the door and for a swim spot. It's important as owners of water dogs that we keep them safe and well during their swim lessons. Here are some tips you should consider:


1.  Keep an eye out for blue-green algae. With our temperatures rising locally (especially this week!), it's even more of a concern and can be a huge problem in lakes and ponds in the PNW. It's toxic for dogs and can actually be fatal, so make sure you research the levels of your favorite swimming holes before the pups take a plunge. 

2.  Watch out for stagnant water. The water flow will slow down a lot in late summer and early fall, and this presents the issue of stagnant water. Rising temperatures mean warmer waters, and dangerous amoebas love taking up residence in that stuff. Be wary of smaller bodies of water that aren't getting a lot of movement.

3.  Bring fresh water for your dog. We run into this issue a LOT at the Warm Beach... they drink the salt water, and what happens next is AWFUL. We call it "Hot Chinese Mustard"... A great way to avoid this unfortunate mishap is to bring fresh water and set it close to the body of water they're swimming in. Remind them it's there! There's all sorts of parasites and bacteria living in fresh and salt water, and you don't want your dog getting sick!

4.  Think about a life jacket. Life jackets are great for dogs who are weak swimmers or apprehensive swimmers. But even the strong swimmers can benefit from a life jacket! May strong swimmers have drown because they have been fetching and swimming, then they drop when they run out of energy. Especially if your dog ends up in some sort of a fast current accidentally, a life jacket could end up saving their life. 

5.  Check the area for glass and metal. We always do this at the beach because all sorts of glass or rusted metal washes up on the shore when the tide comes in. Might I remind you - DON'T LITTER! :) Keep your pup's paws safe and avoid a trip to the vet! 

6. Bring a first-aid kit, just in case. This is important for humans just as much as it is for dogs! A few years ago, our yellow lab cut his ear open on lord knows what when he was romping around, and having some gauze on hand was SO critical to slow the bleeding before we got him to the vet. You can snag a great first-aid kit for the car under $20 here

7. Dry your dog's ears after swimming. Ever had a dog with an ear infection? It's miserable. For them especially, but for you, too. Giving a dog ear drops is not a lot of fun, but then they want to shake their heads afterward and get the stuff out! You can avoid it altogether by drying their ears thoroughly after a swim. 

8. Dry your dog's coat, too! They'll be far less prone to hot spots or skin irritations if you do this. Even better, and especially after a salt water swim, try to rinse them off with fresh water if it's available.

9. Give your dog a once-over when you get home. Check them out all over for things like thorns, ticks, slugs or leaches. 

10. Take pictures of your swimming adventures. Have you ever seen a happier face than that of a dog in the water? You'll want to archive some good memories of you and your best friend!


Happy Adventuring,


Taryn Daly