In the land of 10,000 lakes, you are likely always close to one. Swimming, fishing, and other water activities are popular past times in the hot summer months. Since dogs are part of the family, it is common to include them in the fun as well. Here are some tips on what to know when visiting lakes with dogs.
It is always a good idea to rinse your dog off and then towel dry them after swimming in the lake. This will minimize the plant material or bugs that remain in their fur which can be itchy and irritating. Many area lakes also have “swimmer’s itch”, a common parasite that burrows into the skin causing itchy, red rashes. Any abrasion on the skin can become infected and become a “hot spot” when left moist and contaminated. Baths are an opportune time to closely check your pet over for any rashes, wounds, lumps, etc.
Do not forget to also wash any collars or harnesses frequently. A dirty, wet collar can irritate skin and cause infection. Infections can be hidden underneath collars and become worse over time.
Parasites, Bacteria & Fungus
Do your best to not allow pets to drink the water. Bring along clean water and have it readily available. There are so many unknowns in the water including algae, Leptospirosis, Giardia, and other harmful parasites and bacteria. Blastomycosis is a fungus that is commonly found in the soil especially around bodies of water. Learn more about this condition on our blog.
Blue green algae produce toxins that can be deadly to both pets and humans. The algae thrive in stagnant, warm water. Avoid swimming in any water with large amounts of algae just to be safe.
Unfortunately, there can be many sharp objects in and around our lakes. From jagged rocks or sticks under the surface to broken glass or metal. Dogs are also good at finding hooks since they often have a delicious dead worm or minnow attached. Keep an eye on what they are getting into and check them over after for cuts or abrasions.
Dog’s ears are a perfect breeding ground for yeast and bacteria that thrive in dark, moist environments. Cleaning and drying out your dog’s ears after a swim can reduce the chance of ear infections. A simple ear cleaner can be found at any store that sells pet items. If your dog is prone to ear infections, your veterinarian may recommend a prescription ear cleaner to use after swimming or on a regular basis.
Most dogs instinctively know how to swim. Some dogs need more training and certain breeds are much better than others. If your dog has not been introduced to the water, or is not the best swimmer, a life jacket might be a life saver.