Dog Water Safety

Dog Water Safety

Many of us live in central Oregon because we love water- the lakes and rivers provide ample opportunities for swimming, fishing, camping and paddling. And to be a dog here? Heaven! But just as with people, there are a number of ways dogs can get into trouble around water. Read on for some tips on dog water safety!

First off, dogs do drown. Some don’t swim very well (or at all) and get into trouble. Others are good swimmers but get in bad situations. Life vests are an excellent idea if your dog is around fast moving or deep water (out on a lake). Avoid having your pet off-leash in areas of rivers with fast moving water, waterfalls, or cliffs. Keep your dog on a leash in these areas to prevent accidents from happening. You just never know when “SQUIRREL!” might happen.

Second, dogs are susceptible to toxic algae and water parasites just like we are. If there are alerts for humans not to swim in a body of water, do not allow your dog to swim there either. Blue green algae is the most well-known toxic algae in this area and levels are tested in certain lakes. The following website posts alerts and has additional information on what to look for as not all lakes are monitored. In addition to algae, dogs can contract Giardia which is an infection that causes diarrhea and occasionally vomiting. This can be transmitted to other members of your family so seek veterinary care if your pet develops diarrhea after swimming in the lakes or rivers around here. Salmon poisoning is actually an infection that your dog can contract after eating infected raw fish. The most common symptoms of this disease are high fever and diarrhea. This is seen more commonly in the Willamette Valley but some of the local lakes are stocked with fish that have been exposed to the infectious agent.

Third, dogs can actually drink too much water and get water toxicity. Go figure! If your dog loves playing in the water and swallows water as they frolic, pull them out every 30 minutes and have them take a break. Water toxicity is rare, but we do see cases in this area because of the popularity of visiting lakes and playing at the rivers. Symptoms usually occur within 1-3 hours of consuming way too much water and are a result of severe electrolyte imbalances- death can result. Symptoms can include ataxia (wobbliness), seizures, inability to walk, and coma.

Central Oregonians love the outdoors and love to enjoy it with their four-legged family members. Remember, if you would not let your child do something, it is probably not safe for your dog!