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Tail-Wagging Tips for Enjoying the Water with Your Dog

Diving headfirst into a lake on a hot day is one of the most freeing things in life. Your dog probably agrees.

There’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the water, and that’s part of what makes it so freeing.

Dogs are instinctive swimmers, but just like companions grab sunscreen and bottled water before a day at the lake, our four-legged friends need a little bit of preparation before diving in.

First, even if you plan on your dog staying in the boat, it’s essential that they have a properly fitting life jacket. As good a paddler as your dog may be, anyone can struggle in cold or challenging conditions. This life jacket should be snug, but not too tight. It should also have a handle to help you hoist them out of the water.

Make sure your watercraft is puppy-proofed, too. Stow away any fishing lures or hooks so they aren’t mistaken for toys. In addition, pack a pet first aid kit that includes Dramamine or another remedy for sea sickness.

To keep your dog safe while the boat is in motion, it’s important that they have a trained spot to sit on the boat. If your watercraft is large enough, consider bringing a bed or pad.

The most important thing to pack is plenty of water for your dog. While it may seem natural to have them drink out of the lake, consuming lake or river water can actually be harmful for dogs. No matter how pristine it may appear, even remote water can be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as e-coli, giardia, and blue-green algae.

If you wouldn’t drink it yourself, neither should your dog.

The ABC’s while on the water

Attention — Pay attention to your pooch. No matter where you go or what you’re doing on the water, keep an eye on your dog at all times. Even small waves or a slow current can push them out of sight before you know it. The foreign environment of a boat or the water can be stressful for your dog. This could make them behave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t.

Bathroom — The water isn’t a restroom. Give your canine a chance to relieve themselves prior to going out on the water. If you don’t have a pee pad, either bring a pee pad on the boat, or pull up to shore and head at least 50 feet in. Contaminated water can harm future adventures.

Cover up — Before setting sail on your adventure, don’t forget sunscreen. Short hair dogs need sun protection, just like we do. Cover any bare areas so that light reflected from the water or boat doesn’t burn them. Use at least 15 SPF; bonus points for pet-friendly sunscreens. Never use sunscreen with zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) on dogs, as they are toxic if ingested. Make sure your dog has a covered spot to cool off from the sun. And after your dog is done swimming, use a microfiber towel to help them dry off. Sand and water, especially salt water, can irritate your pet’s skin.

Lastly, a day swimming under the sun burns a lot of calories, so make sure to pack some food for your dog. Consider Black Gold Explorer Formula, which offers a variety of balanced, nutrient-rich options for all life stages.

If you take the proper precautions, your time on the water is sure to be a splash for you and your dog.