2_19_15.lgThis article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on Pet360.com as Helen Hunt Safely Outfits Her Dog for Stand Up Paddleboarding 

Are you familiar with SUP? If not, then perhaps you’re just not recognizing that SUP stands for Stand Up Paddleboarding. It’s a fun activity that’s excellent for core-strength training and improvement of one’s balance in addition to letting you get from one place to another in an invigorating and eco-friendly way.

I’m a big fan of SUP and partake in “SUPping” in my adopted hometown of Los Angeles and other parts of the country where the opportunity avails itself. I even take my dog Cardiff for SUP adventures, which makes for an interesting challenge for me to maintain our collective balance on the board.  Of course, this brings up the million-dollar question. If Cardiff and I are to fall off the board are we at risk for injury or worse?

We humans can certainly look out for our own safety, but our canine companions don’t have the same capabilities when put into circumstances that aren’t necessarily their choice in which to be. This brings up the need for a discussion about safety precautions for our pets during water-borne activities. I’ll get to this shortly, after I commend Helen Hunt for her responsible actions in taking a pet-safe approach to SUPping with her dog in Hawaii.

Hunt was recently snapped by the paparazzi’s lens while taking a SUP excursion in Maui with her dog Eddie and featured in the Daily Mail. Although she may not intentionally plan on being a role model for all other “SUPpers” around the word, she sets a great example not only by parking in exercise with her pooch but also adorning him with a life vest to ensure he’ll float should he fall off the board.

Hunt even took to her @HelenHunt Twitter account and gave the following report:

Eddie and I went stand-up paddling this morning and got worked! Is #WipeoutFriday a thing? #FeelGoodFriday #surfing … http://www.whosay.com/l/mFva9QM 

Just like us, our dogs are prone to falling off or may even want to jump off our board into the water. Depending on your skill set in quickly getting your canine back into the board or your proximity to shore, there may be a short or extended time in which you and your dog will be required to swim. Staying afloat may be an issue the longer you are in the water, the rougher the surf, or with senior or less-athletic dogs. Before you know it, your pooch could sink instead of swim and potentially suffer a watery fate and drown.

There are many products in the market to help your dog float. The option with which I’m most familiar is theDog Lifejacket by Henry and Clemmie. A great video of dogs partaking in activity while wearing the Dog Lifejacket can be found in this YouTube video: Henry and Clemmies Day at the Beach

On our most recent SUP excursion, Cardiff used the Dog Lifejacket with incredible comfort and ease. It kept him completely afloat and even has a convenient handle to permit him to be easily picked up and brought back onto my board or other neighboring watercraft. Such actually happens many times when I take Cardiff SUPping.

Video of Cardiff and I

When we’re not on a board, kayak, or boat, Cardiff still wears the Dog Lifejacket at the water’s edge. Since his natural swimming tendencies frequently emerge and motivate him to chase waves and want to follow seemingly any person into the water I want him to stay protected should he escape from my close supervision. The Dog Lifejacket also fits him so well that he was also able to easily urinate. Such is essential, as his increased activity required more frequent water consumption and contributed to increased urine output.

Make sure to test your dog’s tolerance for any floatation apparatus before the actual need for its use on the water. Any life vest should fit snugly enough that it doesn’t easily come off but you should be able to at least fit a few fingers between the garment and his skin surface.  When you are done with your water-borne activity and your pooch is away from potentially harmful circumstances, then remove the vest. Keeping the floatation device on your pooch’s body permits moisture to stay on the skin surface and can lead to irritation or infection with bacteria or yeast.

So, before you take your dog for an SUP or any water-side adventure, be like Helen Hunt and always put safety first. You don’t want to look back after your pooch has suffered a health problem or death related to your choice of watery activity and wish you’d taken proper safety precautions.

***For full disclosure, we were given a Dog Lifejacket to demo from Henry and Clemmie***

Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.
Copyright of this article (2015) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format. 

 

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