How to keep pets safe

around beaches and other waterways

One reason Kiwis adore summer so much is that it brings hours of fun relaxing in the sun with our pets, both at home and away. The R&R nature of this time of the year means being vigilant about pet safety at the beach, lake, river and creek may not be top of mind.

However, pet parents need to mindful of a range of hazards around these waterways.

Pet insurance specialist PD Insurance wants to remind pet parents that their dog or cat is completely reliant on them for their safety, so look out for the dangers before they happen.

Be it toxic algae, poisonous sea creatures, sand ingestion, rip tides or something else – there are several risks to consider if you’re taking Fido or Felix to the water this summer. The key message is we can all have a blast around waterways but need to know how to tread carefully.

Water risks

Dogs and some cats like to swim and it’s a great way to cool down but be mindful before you let your pet into the water. Don’t let dogs or cats swim in heavy currents or huge waves – even if they’re a strong swimmer. A pet life jacket is always a good idea as an extra precaution, regardless of how experienced they are in water and how busy or rough the water is.

Never throw them into the water when you don’t know how deep or shallow it is or what might be at the bottom. Best not to do it at all because your pet might also react badly to the shock and swallow water by accident. Start in shallow water and let your pet wade in on their own.

In the ocean, always look for rip tides, surfboards, swimmers, jet skis and boats. Watch your furry friend constantly in and around the water. When it comes to lakes and creeks, also make sure your pet is swimming in open and clear areas. Pets can quickly get entangled in reeds, underwater tree roots or water plants, which poses a risk of drowning.

Poisoning risks

Over 2021, more than 8% of PD Insurance’s claims in NZ for dogs were related to accidental ingestion. This covers all kinds of claims, from dogs who ate something poisonous to dogs who had an obstruction and were choking, to dogs who’d eaten an indigestible item and needed to have it surgically removed.

The potential for your dog or cat to gobble up something poisonous at the beach, river, creek or lake – or even in a neighbourhood stormwater drain – is something you need to be aware of. This includes algae, sea slugs, jellyfish, blue bottles, katipo spiders, wasps and bees. These hazards can lead to swelling, breathing difficulties, and can even be fatal.

Keep the Animal Poisons Helpline number on your phone and call them if something happens: 0800 869 738. The service is free for all pet owners. Make sure your vet is on speed dial too.

Salt water and sand risks

Did you know that swallowing too much salt water or sand can be dangerous to your pet?

Pet safety around waterways includes making sure they’re not gobbling up sand or taking in too much salty water. This usually happens from your pet scooping up sand and water when they’re grabbing for toys or a ball in the water.

Salt water will dehydrate your dog or cat and lead to cramps, vomiting and nausea. Too much sand – referred to as sand impaction – can cause blockages in their abdominal system, which will lead to pain and needs urgent treatment to help pass the blockage. Signs and symptoms of sand impaction include vomiting, constipation, lethargy and dehydration.

Also be aware that pets who’ve had a near-drowning situation at the beach or another waterway can still suffer from secondary drowning, just like us humans. This can occur up to three days afterwards.

Despite being clued up on pet safety around bodies of water and taking every precaution, accidents can still happen. Pet insurance allows you to seek quality veterinary treatment quickly and more affordably so you can focus on helping your pet recover.


Media contact 

Leandri Smith – The Mail Room 
027 365 9003 | [email protected]