Pets and Water Safety



June 15, 2021

Ahh, sweet summertime. It’s here, Bivvy fam! Long days on the water, here we come. And if you’re like most Bivvy pet parents, you’ve got a little fur-friend you can’t imagine not having with you on those imminent days of watery fun in the sun. Just give some forethought to your pet’s safety before taking your dog--or cat--out with you to lake or beach days this summer. Keep reading for some pointers.

Not all Dogs Are Natural-Born Swimmers

It’s true. Most will be able to doggy paddle to keep themselves afloat temporarily, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to sustain it or stay afloat. Introduce your dog to water slowly, in a shallow area, with two people ideally—one right with the dog, and the other calling them to swim towards them.

And even if your dog could give Michael Phelps a run for his money, a doggy life vest is never a bad idea. You can get them used to it in advance, by having them wear it around the house, while giving them treats and praise as positive reinforcement. Not only can life vests prevent doggy drowning, they can help them be visible to other people and boats.

If you have a pool in your yard, consider whether having a cover on it when it’s not in use would be a good call, if your wandering critters can’t hold their own in the water. You can also invest in a water-detecting collar with a remote alarm speaker as extra drowning prevention. If the collar gets wet, you’ll hear an alarm.

Provide Rest for the Weary

Pets can fatigue easily in the water, so never leave them unattended. No matter what sort of body of water you’re in, give your pet an exit strategy. Show them where the pool steps or the lake shore are. These can be hard for pets to find on their own, plus they have poor depth perception in the water. And to help your furry friend out of the water when they need it, consider actually installing a ramp in your pool that’s more pet-friendly than those slippery little ladders.

Always keep an eye on your pet when they’re swimming, and help them out when they seem tired or are displaying any signs of overheating (they can’t sweat, so their cooling mechanisms often look like excessive panting, drool, or a rapid heartbeat).

And if you have the rare cat who enjoys a swim, consider hanging a carpet, rope, or something else they can climb up, out of your pool or onto the side of your boat, so they can climb back aboard if they’ve fallen, or simply come back in when they’re getting fatigued.

Yes, Technically You Should be Sun-screening Your Pets

Use your best judgment in each case, but taking every precaution for your pet whilst hanging around the water should include sunblock. Their skin’s no different than ours, and sunburn can lead to painful, irritated skin, or even hair loss and long-term skin issues. Sun protection is especially important if your dog’s going to be out in peak sunny hours, from 10-4, and if he or she is a Bull Terrier, Pit Bull, Dalmatian, French Bulldog, Greyhound, or Boxer.

Your best bet is a dog-specific sunscreen, but if you can’t find that, a broad-spectrum sunscreen for babies and children with SPF 15 or higher should be fine. Try to stick with fragrance-free and no zinc oxide. Alternatively, you can use bodysuits, shirts, and hats with UV protection. Reapply it throughout the day on their nose, around their lips, on the tips of their ears, the groin, and the belly.

Keep the Drinks Flowing

Water…for your pet…that is. Between chemicals in pool water, parasites in lakes and rivers, and salt in the ocean, you should never let your pet drink from the body of water they’re swimming in. Bring along plenty of fresh water for them.

Boating Best Practices

If a boat is in the picture for your lucky dog’s day on the water, get them used to it ahead of time by letting them on it while it’s docked, get them used to the sound of the motor, and even take them on short cruises and build up to longer ones if you can. Keep them away from engine fumes, and mitigate seasickness by not keeping them in an enclosed space. Make sure they can see the horizon.

And have Bivvy’s affordable pet insurance on your side for all your summer fun, in case your pet needs medical attention and you find yourself stuck with a sizeable vet bill. It’s less than $1 per day, and that doesn’t go up if you make a claim. For the best pet insurance for your best summer buddy, check out Bivvy.

Very happiest of summers to you and your pets, from all of us at Bivvy!