One of the best things about living in Austin in the summer is being able to cool off in the water! There are so many lakes (we love Lady Bird Lake!) to swim, kayak, canoe, SUP, and boat that are dog friendly, so even your furry friend can join in on the fun. Here are our tips for a safe and fun summer on the water.
Over the past 5 years, Austin’s waterways have seen an increase in blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria. Not all blue-green algae is toxic, but the same one that is toxic to dogs when ingested can make humans sick too. Always rinse off your dog after swimming and take them to the vet immediately if they show any signs of sickness. Symptoms can include excessive drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, foaming at the mouth, jaundice and hepatomegaly, blood in urine or dark urine, stumbling, loss of appetite, sun sensitivity in recovering animals, abdominal tenderness, muscle twitches, and respiratory paralysis. Generally, it’s a safe bet to stay out of any still water or water with algae growing on top or that has a film. This toxic algae needs warm water, low flow, and lots of nutrients to flourish. Luckily, during the summer, Austin tests the water every other week to determine if the levels of algae are too dangerous for dogs or humans to go swimming. There are dashboards you can pull up to check the algae levels, posted and monitored by austintexas.gov starting in the summer.
It is also important to bring clean drinking water for your dog and give them access throughout your time outdoors. You may want to bring doggie sunscreen as well. Check out our “Dog Heat Safety and Best Water Bottles” post for our favorite bottles and sunscreen! If you’re planning on boating or doing some water sports, or if your dog is learning to be more comfortable in the water, make sure that they have a life jacket to keep them afloat. You can find more info in our “Top Reviewed Life Jackets for Dogs” post for our favorites! Have your dog wear their jacket multiple times before they go swimming to make sure they can move comfortably in the water while wearing it.
When levels are safe, there are some truly wonderful areas for vaccinated and friendly dogs to swim and play.
We love the dog area of Barton Springs, known as “Barking Springs.” Dogs are not allowed in the Barton pool, but just beyond the fenced in natural pool is an area where off leash dogs can swim, splash, and play. People congregate there in the warmer weather with picnics and bathing suits with their family and friends- human and furry! It’s a great place for a hike with your dog, and also fun if you just want to hang out and cool off. Make sure to bring a towel because you will definitely get splashed!
Red Bud Isle Park
Red Bud Isle is another off leash dog park with beautiful views to see when walking or swimming. It’s a tiny island in the river that was made into a dog park. Families can come with kayaks, canoes, or SUPs or just walk around the small island and look at the beautiful trees, plants, and flowing water. Parking is a little crazy though so plan lots of time to find a spot because this park is very popular for dog owners and non-dog owners alike.
Auditorium Shores Dog Park
This large off leash dog park is right next to the water. Dogs and humans too can choose to play in the field, or in Lady Bird Lake. It’s a great place to cool off either before or after a walk along the lake. With beautiful views of the city and lots of space to run, this park is a great choice for friendly and energetic pups.
Campbell’s Hole Beach
This hidden gem a little south of Auditorium Shores and Barton Springs pool is Campbell’s Hole Beach. It’s a dog friendly natural swimming hole that’s a great place for swimming for both humans and dogs! The picturesque rocks and plants are beautiful next to the water for a quick photo-op and there is plenty of shade to sit and relax.
Austin’s dog friendly waterways are the perfect place to cool off this summer, so grab your towel, some water and some snacks for some fun!