Dogs and Water Safety


Summer is finally here in the Northwest and our local lakes, rivers, and saltwater beaches are looking good. Keep your pup’s safety in mind, use common sense, and everyone will have a good time!

It’s important to realize that not all dogs like to swim (and many breeds are not suited to it at all)! Go slowly in shallow water with young dogs to make sure they are comfortable and know how to swim. Know you dog’s capabilities. Above all, don’t force it.

Watch for rip tides and rogue waves at the beach, strong currents and debris in rivers, and heavy boat traffic and plants such as water lilies which can trap swimmers (both canine and human) on lakes. Check water temperatures—hot days and cold water are common in Western Washington and can be a dangerous combination for dogs, just as it is for people. 

If you are out boating for the day, provide a life vest for your dog, especially if they are not good, strong swimmers. Make sure it fits well and is used properly. Marinas can get really crowded on summer days, so keep your dog close and watch for traffic.

Pools should be fenced and/or covered when not in use. Make sure your dog knows how to get out and never leave them unattended.

No matter where you go, be sure to bathe your dog at day’s end. Saltwater, chlorine, and algae can cause skin problems and even illness. You can use the Washington State Toxic Algae website to check for or report algae problems in our local lakes

Carrying some big beach towels and a large jug or two of water in your car will help with cleanup until you can get home for a proper bath. Don’t forget to dry those ears and check those paws!

Bring fresh water and a bowl so your dog isn’t tempted to drink the water they are swimming in. Don’t let your dog get too tired and provide some shade for resting. And of course, watch them at all times. Have fun!

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