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Fun in the water with your dog

By walkiees on 05th August 2022

We are currently enjoying a record heatwave summer, and on those cooler days it's so tempting to take your dog down to the beach to enjoy some sand and a splash.

But there are some things to take very seriously before letting your dog enjoy the water, to ensure that the fun doesn't turn into an emergency.

Fun in the water with your dog
Photo by Pip Curtis

To help pet owners make safe summer beach choices, Brighton's Bone Idol has teamed up with Canine First Aid expert Rachel Bean to create this handy guide.

Scott Learmouth, co-founder of Bone Idol, a dog lifestyle website, dog grooming training academy and groomers, said: "We are based in Brighton, the most dog friendly city in the UK, and of course we are close to the sea.

"While a splash in the sea or any water can be fun and enriching for your dog, all too often we sadly hear stories where things have gone wrong.

"Rachel is the nation's top canine first aider, and wrote the iPET Network Canine First Aid course that we teach at the academy, so who better to collaborate with on these top tips."

Fun in the water with your dog
Photo by Hayley Finch

Rachel's top tips for water safety:

  • Vaccinations: Before you even think about going to the beach or any water with your dog it is essential that they have received their leptospirosis vaccination, and get a regular booster. Leptospirosis is a horrible bacterial disease which dogs can catch from dirty water. So be safe and get them protected.
  • First time at the beach: If it is your dog's first time going near the water don't forget that not all dogs know how to swim. Start by introducing your pet to shallow water where there is no current, and see how they get on. I recommend investing in a life vest for your dog for any water based activities. These include RuffWear Float Jackets, which are available in a wide array of sizes and colours – they’re a life-jacket for dogs, which also have a safety strap, and ring to attach, which could help provide some peace of mind when taking your dog out. There are also a number of specially designed water-based toys, such as the RuffWear Lunker.
  • Fast moving water: When walking past any fast moving water keep your dog on a lead. And never leave your canine companion unattended at any time, even when you trust them to be off lead in safe areas.
  • Hazards: When allowing a dog that loves swimming to take a dip, always make sure that there are not any hazards that they could injure themselves on. These could include pieces of rubbish, or driftwood.
  • Water to avoid: Always avoid allowing your dog to swim in canals, as they may contain stagnant water or poisonous blue-green algae. Reservoirs are also dangerous, as while they may look calm the surface of the water may hide strong undercurrents which could take your pup by surprise.
  • Around water sources: When walking on steep slopes or cliff tops, always keep your dog on a lead, and always make sure that the beach you are thinking of taking your dog to is dog friendly, you could risk a fine if you break the rules.
  • Sandy beaches: Don't forget that some dogs love to put things in their mouths, and sand can be no exception. If you are visiting a sandy beach or water source take care that your dog doesn't eat the sand, it can cause sand impaction on the intestines and a painful trip to the vets.
  • Swallowing water: While swallowing a little water isn't anything to worry about, your dog can swallow too much. Monitor your dog for this, as water intoxication can be a risk of swimming and splashing.
  • In an emergency: If your dog gets into difficulties call 999, and never follow your dog into the water to try and help them.

Many dogs love water, and having fun and a splash is a great way for owners and their pets to bond and enjoy themselves in the fine weather.

Rachel added: "Many dogs love water, and having fun and a splash is a great way for owners and their pets to bond and enjoy themselves in the fine weather.

"But it is very important to get to know your dog, and understand and respect that all dogs are different. Just because you want to swim in the sea, it doesn't mean your dog does too.

"But if you do have a water loving pet, please follow the safety advice as it will mean everyone has a brilliant time and stays out of danger."

To find out more about Bone Idol go to boneidol.co.uk

To find out more about Rachel Bean go to rachelbean.co.uk