During April, we will be running our #pawsagainstponds campaign! Britain is a nation of dog lovers, there are over 12 million in the UK and here at Froglife we love our furry friends, in fact many of our staff and volunteers are dog owners themselves. However, dogs swimming in ponds can have negative impacts on wildlife and we want to focus on reducing this and raising awareness of the issue.
Keeping dogs out of ponds used by amphibians for breeding is important for three reasons:
- Dogs swimming and paddling in ponds can stir up sediment, blocking out valuable sunlight for aquatic plants and spawn/tadpole development.
- Trampling spawn, tadpoles and froglets/toadlets
- Spot-on flea treatments can have a devastating impact on aquatic ecosystems. If dogs go into ponds shortly after treatment, the powerful pesticides can kill the insect life within the pond. You can find further information on the British Veterinary Association’s webpage here.
There can also be negative impacts on dogs including:
- Illness and risk of death from blue-green algae. Please read the British Veterinary Association’s article on the subject (with advice on what you can do to prevent your dog from becoming ill) here
- Injuries from hidden hazards below the water
- Infections from existing cuts and injuries or ones sustained whilst in the water
If you see a pond that is well planted and appears to be a designated wildlife habitat, try to keep your dogs away or even better, on a lead, particularly in spring when amphibians will be breeding and in the summer when young amphibians will be leaving their ponds for terrestrial habitats.
What alternatives are there?
We still want dogs to enjoy water, but we want to keep wildlife as well as the dogs themselves safe when doing so. There are some brilliant alternatives to swimming in wild water including:
- ‘Dog swim days’ You can check outdoor pools in your area to see if they provide this service. There are some great suggestions here.
- Head for the beach! Remember to check if dogs are allowed on your chosen beach before travelling
- Sourcing an old paddling pool or sandpit and making a doggy pool in the comfort of your own garden
- Play with sprinklers- hook one up to your hosepipe and watch your dog enjoy it- you could even join in with them! (be aware of local hosepipe bans in the summer months before doing this)
- Give them an outdoor bath- if you’ve been on a walk and your doggo is a bit dusty/dirty you can bathe them in the garden. Make it fun by adding their favourite toys and don’t forget a nice treat for afterwards
What you can do to help the #pawsagainstponds campaign:
- When walking your dog near wild water, please keep them on a lead
- Use alternatives to swimming in wild water (mentioned above)
- When building a wildlife pond, consider creating natural fencing (hedges, willow fencing) to prevent your dog from taking a swim. More info here
- Spread the word! Please share our social media posts and tell your family and friends about the campaign
Here are some useful articles on dogs in ponds
- The Effects of Dogs on Wildlife Communities
- Potential role of veterinary flea products in widespread pesticide contamination of English rivers