Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Traveling Safely with your Dog- Part 2

Are you planning on taking a trip out to the river or lake this summer and you want to take the dog?  You are not alone since 2.5 million people visit Lake Havasu, 3 million people visit Lake Tahoe, and 9 million people visit Lake Mead each year.  And while not all people (pet owners even) visit these destinations with their dogs, a good amount of them do.  So what can you do to make sure your dog has a fun and safe time while visiting the water with you?     
Traveling by boat
There are three basic things that your dog will need while on a boat or splashing around the water with you; a life jacket, sun block, and plenty of fresh water.
Life Jacket:  Many people are in the dark about the importance of life jackets not only for their dog but for themselves as well.  One Riverside resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, said “I take my dog with me to Havasu all the time.  She loves jumping in the water and catching her toys while the rest of us just chill in the boat. I never even thought about getting her a life jacket ‘cause I never thought she would need one.”  Famous last words of a fool?   
According to the U.S. Coast Guards Boating and Safety annual accident statistic report for 2009, the Coast Guard counted 4,730 accidents that involved 736 deaths and 3,358 injuries. The report also noted that “Almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of course, eighty-four (84) percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.”
The triton message board on Yahoo! is a “Communication network for Pearson Triton Sailboat owners, sailors and fans.  In 2001, an article called Boat Smart was posted with boating accident statistics from a report and observations made by Senior Chief Tom Rau, Coast Guard Group Grand Haven in Michigan. At the very end of his report he added a local note saying, “…During a patrol on Lake Michigan, off Holland, they observed nearly 350 boaters….one in forty-two boaters wearing a life jacket, dogs one in three.” Only 1 in 3 dogs was wearing a life jacket.
NRS (Northwest River Supplies) in a renowned online supply store, from camping to canoeing and all things river.  This website is not just a store, but a resource center as well, with experts writing articles about being on the river.  One more recent article was about bringing the dog along and the importance of putting them in a life jacket.  “Many think all dogs are natural swimmers. While they probably all will naturally “dog paddle,” many dogs are not good swimmers. Even those that are can get tired in a long swim, get injured in an upset and be overwhelmed by current or rapids.”  The article goes on to say, “Even a champion swimmer like U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps could be overmatched in those conditions, without the assistance of a life jacket.”
 Notice any patterns? Most boating accidents result in death by drowning, 84% of which could be avoided by wearing a life jacket. Its true for humans as it is dogs. 
            Sunblock: Dogs can and do get sun burned, especially on the water. Of course, white dogs and dogs with short hair are more susceptible to getting burned, but almost any dog can get burned on their nose and burn the pads of their feet on hot asphalt. If your dog is white and short haired, be sure to cover him in sunblock.  And if he is getting in and out of the water, be sure to reapply throughout the day.  For all other dogs, you might want to consider giving your pup a dog hat.

Riverside resident, Paul Vasquez, has a white American Bulldog named Diesel.  When asked about sunblock for his dog he said, “In the summer, Diesel needs sunblock every day otherwise he gets all pink and burnt.  My kids don’t even use sunblock every day.”  And while Paul has a point that most humans don’t put on sun block every day, they might think twice if they weren’t always wearing clothes.  Dogs don’t have the luxury of throwing on a shirt and hat, so just 30 minutes in the backyard is enough to result in a burn.  
Fresh Water: Dogs lose a lot of body fluids when panting.  Always bring plenty of fresh water for the dog on the boat and ensure your dog drinks plenty of it during the day. You may not be able to use a water bowl so you should bring a water bottle with a sports top or a dog water bottle designed specifically for dog drinking on the go.
It’s a good idea to keep your dog in the shade as much as possible to further avoid sun burns and dehydration.  As always, please keep your dogs safety in mind during any water activity and happy splashing!

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