Tips for a fun and safe summertime for your dog

By DR. FRED SELF / VETERINARIAN

This time of year everybody looks for good ways to cool off. The temperature and the humidity are both starting to rise. One way to keep cool is to spend time by the water. This week I have some suggestions related to water-sport safety.

When a client brings in a new puppy, I always encourage them to start teaching it things as early as possible. The clinic has a basic homework sheet to send home with owners. Some of the things owners are encouraged to teach their puppies include riding on a boat and riding on a jet ski. Those items made the list because so many people enjoy going to the lake or river and want to be able to take their dogs with them. If introduced to boats and jet skis early, not only will their dogs be willing to go for a ride but they will also enjoy it.

Another skill that should be taught is swimming. Even though there is a swimming technique named after the dog’s swim style, not every dog knows how to “doggy paddle.” Puppies can be exposed to water in the bathtub. As they get bigger, the water level can be increased. That way, when they get into the open water, they are prepared to show off their favorite swim stroke.

Pets on a watercraft should also be given a flotation device to wear. Life jackets are not just for people. A well-fitted life preserver, designed for pets, can help keep a dog afloat in case they accidentally fall overboard.

This time of year also brings a rash of fishhook-related injuries. When you take your dog out fishing, keep an eye on their location and be careful when you cast so that you catch fish and not man’s best friend. Take all the bait off your hooks when they are not in use. Dogs have been known to go after bait more quickly than the fish for which it was intended.

If your pet does get hooked, and the hook cannot be easily removed, see your veterinarian. In some instances, sedation will be required to remove the hook, and antibiotics are a good idea to prevent infection.

Taking your dog with you to the lake or river is a great way for both of you to cool off. Just remember you are in charge of your dog’s safety.