Labrador Retriever Hunting in a RiverMontana may be Big Sky country, but it’s hard not to love her waters. From the Yellowstone and Big Horn rivers to Lake Elmo State Park and the natural hot springs hidden away from it all, it’s likely there is somewhere that speaks to your soul. And, as a pet owner, it’s even more likely that you share these places with your dog.

Whether you’re fishing, boating, swimming, or hunting; when you live in Billings, water safety for dogs is something you can’t take for granted. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

Water Safety for Dogs

Water comes in all different shapes, sizes, and speeds; there is no one-size-fits all approach to keeping your pet safe. However, there are a few pro-tips (and plenty of common sense) to keep in mind…

Listen to your pet.
No matter how zen we think we get, animals are more in-tune with nature than we are. If your dog is overly concerned or overly-enthusiastic or curious about something, take note. Remember, your dog is just as concerned about your safety as you are about his’ or hers’.

Keep your eyes open and your dog close. 
Know where your dog is, where he or she is getting in and out of the water, and what’s going on around you both. Don’t leave your pet unattended, and don’t let your pet leave you, either. Make sure your dog knows his or her boundaries.

To leash, or not to leash?
When you’re at an obviously-designated on-leash area, keep you dog on his or her leash. However, when you’re in middle of nowhere, you’ll likely let your dog loose. Depending on your surroundings, this is fine; just be sure to keep the leash with you (and use it) in case it’s needed.

If you are in a current, it’s typically best to keep your pet’s leash off and that he or she is wearing a breakaway collar. A leash will not make it easier to catch your pet if he or she is being swept away, and will usually put both you and your pet at a greater risk for injury or drowning.

Use a PFD (Pet Flotation Device).
If you and your dog are going to be in a current, in deep water, or on the water all day, you’ll want to have a PFD for him or her, even if he or she is a strong swimmer. This is doubly true if your pet is not build to swim (not all dogs are). Make sure the PFD fits snugly on your pet and has a top handle to retrieve your pet with, should the need arise.

Hot Springs and dogs don’t mix.
It can feel amazing to soak in geothermal water, but keep your pets out. Dogs can’t regulate their internal temperature like we can, and hyperthermia can set in within minutes. Likewise, geothermal water can scald your pet’s skin and feet, leading to horrific burns.

Pack It In, Pack it Out

You’ll want to make sure that you pack plenty of fresh water and food for your pet, as well as travel bowls. Your dog will get hungry and thirsty, just like you, so be sure to have what you need with you. If you see your pet drinking nature’s water, it’s a sign of thirst and you should offer your pet fresh water instead. And don’t forget the treats!

It’s also a good idea to bring a towel or blanket for your pet (somewhere to bed down), and a pet first-aid kit – just in case.

Finally, before you hit the water, be sure to have your pet’s vaccinations and parasite preventatives current. There is an endless supply of bacteria, both in the water and on land, that can infect your pet, if he or she isn’t protect.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, have fun! And don’t hesitate to call us with any questions about water safety for dogs  you might have.