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We go out on the boat a lot. My dog loves to swim but I am afraid she will jump off when we are moving. How can I keep her safe?

Water safety for dogs is very important! I recommend that dogs on boats wear life jackets. Even very good swimmers can get into trouble if they jump off a moving boat. The waves from the boat or other passing boats can be very dangerous for dogs out in open water. The life jacket isn’t necessarily to help them swim, but to help them navigate difficult situations with less energy and be more visible.

Some dogs take to life jackets like a second skin, while others need to warm up to them (just like regular coats!) Let your dog wear the jacket for increasing times each day or two, out of the water. When they first wear them in the water, let them wade in versus jumping into deep water. Just like they feel different for us, they feel different to them in the water. The adjustment is easier walking in than swimming.

How long can I plan on hiking without bringing water for my dog?

This depends on a few different variables. Some dogs drink often, while others don’t drink as much. Some dogs get hot very easily, while others think 90 degrees is perfect weather. Some hiking locations have ponds or streams, while others have no fresh water.

My rule of thumb is that if there will not be fresh water (or I’m not sure) and I bring water for myself, I should plan it for the dogs. They actually work much harder than I do on our walks and hikes, so if I am thirsty it stands to reason that they also are. If you have that rare dog that won’t drink out of streams or ponds, you should probably plan on bringing water if you are going to be away from it for more than an hour or so.

Thankfully, there are a ton of genius dog water hiking inventions that are very portable. Or you can always bring a collapsible bowl and just share your water bottle.

You should also plan to bring water if you are taking a long car ride with your pet. We typically don’t think about how often we drink during activities outside the home.

Remember that pets should NEVER drink salt water. This can cause salt to increase to dangerous levels in their body. This can happen from drinking, or even things like fetching in salt water. It is even more important that you have fresh water to offer your pet if you are exercising near salt water so they are not ever tempted to drink it.

How do I make sure that my dog gets brought back if lost hiking?

I always recommend a microchip on pets that are out and about a lot (or really, on all pets!) This can be scanned by animal control, animal shelters or any veterinary office. The benefit of a microchip it that it can’t fall off or be lost, so we know it is reliable.

I also think every dog should have an ID tag on their collar with their name and at least two phone numbers. I tend towards the neurotic, so I like a second person’s number in case I am out of service. I also put my dogs’ rabies tags on a separate ring on their collar, so if one ring breaks they have a back-up ID.

If a dog gets lost hiking, always make sure there is someone or something familiar at the spot you left from. They will often find their way back along the path they took originally, so don’t automatically drive away and look for them leaving their origin spot empty.

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