As the temperatures and humidity index rise, our thoughts naturally turn to water. This might be the perfect time for enjoying the backyard pool, boating on the ocean, or finally leaving the house and traveling to a favorite lakeside destination. Whatever you choose, when pets are around, extra precaution must be observed. That is why we here at The COVE, have a few pet water safety tips just in time for summer.

Not All Dogs Enjoy the Water

While many pups (and a few cats) love splashing around in the water and chasing waves, not all pets enjoy swimming. If your dog isn’t comfortable in the water, we suggest swimming lessons or a slow introduction to it in a shallow pool. If your pet is still apprehensive around water, there is no need to force them, make sure to keep your pool fenced or your pet away from bodies of water during vacations.

Boat and Pet Safety

For those furry friends who enjoy the water, boats, kayaks, and canoes can be a fun outing. However, bringing pets on-board requires extra safety precautions. Always implement the following before boarding a vessel:

  • Make sure your pet knows how to get on and off the boat safely. Any wrong movements can lead to an injury or drowning.
  • Always outfit your dog or cat with a fitted life vest – at all times!
  • Boat decks get as hot as asphalt and can cause third-degree burns on your pet’s paw pads. Cover feet with booties or keep them in a shaded area.
  • Make sure there is ample shade or a quiet place for a pet to relax.
  • Pack the water bowl and plenty of fresh water to keep them hydrated. Saltwater can be toxic to pets.
  • Watch your pet around all fishing gear. String and hooks can cause several injuries, many that require emergency surgery and critical care.
  • Make sure to have a well-stocked pet first-aid-kit on board and the phone number to the nearest animal emergency hospital.
Always have your dog wear a life vest around water

Enjoy the Sun with Your Pet

While enjoying the sun either in the sand or near the pool, it is crucial to keep your furry friend in the shade and hydrated. During this time of year, our emergency department sees a significant increase in heat-related illnesses.

Heatstroke occurs when the body can no longer regulate the internal temperature. This usually occurs when a pet is locked in a small enclosure (such as a vehicle), or when they cannot get access to shade (such as being tied up outside). It can also happen when a pet becomes overheated from vigorous exercise. Heatstroke often happens when pets haven’t yet acclimated to the higher outside temperatures, so even physically fit dogs can experience this at the change of the seasons. Heatstroke is a severe medical emergency and can lead to death if untreated.

Signs of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Increased drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Pale gums
  • Warm to the touch
  • Disorientation
  • Collapse

It’s essential to respond immediately by moving your pet to a cool location and take their temperature. Then apply a passive cooling process (running cool (not cold!) water over them and cooling them down with a fan) until body temperature is 103 degrees then STOP there to avoid hypothermia. It is vital to closely monitor their body temp and restart the process if the temperature rises again before you receive medical attention.

Additionally, have someone stay with your pet at all times and call your veterinarian. Offer small amounts of water frequently and transport your pet in an air-conditioned vehicle to your veterinarian or animal emergency hospital. If you believe your pet might have suffered a heat stroke, you can call us here at The COVE, 757-935-9111.

To avoid your pet from overheating, make sure to keep them in the shaded under an umbrella, always have a water bowl on hand, and NEVER LEAVE A PET IN A PARKED CAR.

Safely Enjoy Local Lakes and Springs with Your Pets

Here in Virginia, there are many fresh bodies of water to enjoy. Keep these tips in mind when around freshwater:

  • Avoid water with blue-green algae. These toxic algae can make you and your pet quite sick.
  • Check all rules and regulations before visiting a natural spring or park.
  • Keep your dog on a leash when not in the water.
  • Make sure to have your pets on heartworm and flea medication.

Remember to always supervise your pet when swimming or around large bodies of water and bring them in if they start to get tired, or after 20 minutes of swimming. We hope you and your furry family members have a fun, refreshing, and safe summer!

how to keep cats safe around water

The COVE is OPEN 24/7 – All Summer – and All Year Long  

If you are here in the Suffolk/Norfolk region, you can trust in the care of our Emergency Department, led by Jacqueline Nobles, DVM, DACVECC, a board-certified specialist in emergency and critical care. The COVE is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are located at 6550 Hampton Roads Pkwy, #113, Suffolk, VA. We welcome your call anytime, day or night, at 757-935-9111.

About Us

The COVE’s veterinarians and staff wholeheartedly embrace the core values of community, collaboration, commitment, compassion, and integrity. This focus ensures that pets, the people who love them, and their primary care veterinarians have as positive and affirming a healthcare experience as possible, regardless of the circumstances that bring us all together.