Category Archives: Dogs and Water

Beach Safety Tips for Your Dog

An entrance guard at Myrtle Beach State Park told me that the beach was open to dogs before 10 am and after 5 pm. She warned that the sand gets too hot in the middle of the day and could

Cocker spaniel at Myrtle Beach sign

Buffy at Myrtle Beach for BlogPaws 2017.

burn my dog’s paws. Have you ever thought about the hot sand on your dog’s paws while you run down to the water in your flip-flops or sandals? I know I’ve come close to burning my feet a few times. So think about your dog’s paws too.

Beach Safety

  • Watch to see if your dog licks their paws–she might have stepped on something sharp.
  • Bring cool drinking water for your dog. Salt water is nasty to drink and I’m sure your dog will try to drink it, especially if they’re used to wading into freshwater lakes.
  • Keep your dog on a leash. It’s scary to have a strange, loose dog run up to you since you don’t know how it will react. Leashes are usually required and provide safety especially for children on the beach.
  • Always bring a poop bag. There’s nothing worse than stepping in dog poop in your bare feet at the beach.
  • Don’t let your dog poop in the water—I’ve seen this happen. Poop allows bacteria to thrive which can cause people who ingest the water to get sick. That’s why local health departments test the water at swimming beaches regularly. One poopy diaper can produce enough bacteria to shut down a beach for a day or two.
  • Beware of the effect of the sun on your dog. Some dogs can get sunburn through their thin coats, or on their noses. You may want to put a wet t-shirt on your dog to prevent sunburn and keep him cool, or use sunscreen made especially for dogs. Human sunscreen containing zinc oxide is toxic for dogs.Cocker spaniel at the beach
  • Don’t let your dog eat fish bones or other things at the beach. My springers spaniel always loved to eat stuff. Fortunately they didn’t get sick.
  • This one goes without saying—don’t let them roll on dead fish! Why do they love to do this?
  • Beware of sand flies and other insects on the beach. If bugs are biting you, they’re biting your dog too.
  • If it’s very windy and the sand is blowing hard–then leave the beach for another day.

Water Safety

  • If the water looks like green paint—don’t let your dog swim or drink the water. It could have a blue-green algae bloom, which may produce toxins.
  • Don’t force your dog into the water to swim; this can cause them to hate it for the rest of their lives. I accidentally pulled one of my dogs underwater by dragging her into the water. Don’t pick up your dog and toss her into deep water with the mentality of letting your dog sink or swim. My dad did this to my first dog and she never got over her fear. Coax your dog gently into the water with treats or a ball, but let the dog decide how far she wants to go.
  • If your dog loves to swim, don’t let your dog swim too far from shore. I’ve seen some Dog at shoreline at sunsetambitious owners lob a tennis ball far into a lake. Rip currents or an undertow could catch your dog and drag him out farther from shore. If your dog is pulled into deep water and struggling to get back to shore–don’t go after it! We’ve all heard stories of caring owners that drown trying to rescue their dogs, while their dog survived. If there is a rip current walk along the shore to encourage your dog to swim parallel to the shore instead of straight back. That should help him get out of the rip current.
  • You may want to have a life jacket for your dog, especially if your dog does not swim well.
  • Beware of hypothermia. Some water can be quite cold even while the beach is warm.

After Leaving the Beach

  • Use a towel to wipe down your dog before he gets into the car.
  • Have extra towels and a designated area for your dog to sit to reduce the amount of sand in the car.
  • Brush the loose sand off their coat or give them a rinse or a bath in fresh water.
  • Clean your dog’s ears, especially if your dog has long, floppy ears like my spaniels. Ear infections can occur with damp ear canals, so clean them with an otic solution with a drying agent.

These are some of my experiences with dogs at the beach. Please comment and add to the list. This isn’t quite a Wordless Wednesday post. Please read and comment on other posts below. If you would like to receive new posts, please sign up with your email address.

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Dog in kiddie pool

Water Dogs in Water of all Forms

My Cassie was a real water dog loving water in all its forms.

Dog standing in creek

Cassie in Long Run Creek site visit during environmental work. Cassie worked with me as a water consultant.

dog walking in a river

Cassie loved wading into rivers.

Dog rolling in snow

Cassie creating snow angels.

dog rolling in summer snow with Mitch Beales

Cassie rolling in a small patch of snow in the Colorado mountains in the summer with my husband.

Blogpaws wordless Wednesday

Do your dogs love water?

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If the Water’s Green – It’s not Clean – Keep your dog away.

It’s that time of year again, late summer, when the weather’s hot, the water’s stagnant, and bright green scum floats on the surface of the lake.   Take a scoop of the lake water with a clear cup. Are there green particles suspended in it? Does it look like someone dumped green paint on the lake? Likely, it’s blue-green algae or cyanobacteria–even though the water looks green.

My last springer spaniel would jump in any body of water, lie down and take a drink. But don’t let your dog do this. Many dogs each year get very sick and some die. Just today, I read an article about a dog dying from drinking algae infested water.

Blue – green algae toxins affect dogs, people, and other animals. Last year Toledo shut down its water distribution because blue-green algae toxins on Lake Erie entered in its water supply. It may happen again this year.

Toxins are not always present when the lake looks this green, but be on the safe side and stay away. Not all species of blue-green algae form toxins, and of the species that do, they do not always produce toxins. Various tests can determine if the toxins are present. But the water conditions can change rapidly. If the cells die, they release their toxins into the water. The various types of toxins can affect the liver, nervous system, or the skin.

Symptoms of algae toxicity

Blue-green algae scum on a lake.

Blue-green algae scum on a lake.

  • abdominal cramps
  • nausea
  • diarrhea,
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • seizures
  • headache
  • muscle and joint pain
  • blisters of the mouth or skin rashes

If any of these symptoms occur, take your dog to the vet immediately (or yourself to the ER). Most dogs die within days or even hours after drinking contaminated water.


  • Install signs warning of the blue-green algae hazard.
  • Prevent dogs from drinking and swimming in blue-green algae.
  • Don’t swim in areas with blue-green algae blooms.

Long-term prevention involves reducing nutrient loading into the lake, which would eventually limit algae blooms, but it may take many years to see an effect.

Cold Water and Dogs

Taking a walk to view the ice conditions along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Hosah Park in Zion, I never expected Cassie to start walking into the ice cold water. She’s usually cautious, but since we come here often in the summer, I think she was surprised at the cold water. She quickly backed out once I yelled at her.

Cassie shaking off the cold lake water.

Cassie shaking off the cold lake water.

It’s always a good idea to keep your eye on your dog near water, especially when there is ice. My last springer, Kaylee was a real water dog, swimming in any open water, no matter what the temperature. Sometimes when I took her to the beach in the winter, she would jump in and get thoroughly soaked. On the walk back to the car icicles formed on her fur.

Ice along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Ice along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Often the ice conditions along the lakefront are unsafe, with ice flows near shore. Once I watched a deer swimming in the lake, desperately trying to grab onto an ice flow, until it lost its strength and drown. Not something I like to think about. So keep your dog on a leash near ice! I’ve even seen my dogs walk on half inch thin ice. They can’t tell when the ice is too thin.
How does your dog act around cold water?