Warning: Dogs and Hot Springs a Lethal Mix

A friend told me over the weekend about her sister's dog, who jumped into a hot spring as a healthy, happy dog, and emerged screaming,...

Maria Goodavage  |  Aug 1st 2011


A friend told me over the weekend about her sister’s dog, who jumped into a hot spring as a healthy, happy dog, and emerged screaming, her body badly scalded. The lab-terrier mix, Maggie,needed emergency veterinary care, but looks like she will pull through. Her owner, who ran into the water to help her when she realized what happened, is also being treated for scalded skin. Both are in great pain and will nerf medical attention for some time.

She said it happened before she knew it. She realized there were hot springs near where they were hiking, but never dreamed a spring would be so close to the trail and would be so hot. The springs she had visited for her own pleasure were always toasty, but tolerable.

Then last night, by coincidence, I ran across a story from KIVI-TVabout the fact that many Idaho dogs have been finding themselves in equally hot water whenaround hot springs. Water dogs, being water dogs, wadeorjump in before the owner realizes what’s going on. Many dogs have died as a result of the burns,according to the story.

Hot springs usually have signage, warning owners to leash up. Some may not see the signs, others may not realize the consequences, say rangers. Rangers prefer people just stay away from hot springs with their dogs, even if leashed.

One ranger told KIVI-TV about something very similar to Maggie’s story. The dog jumped in, and the owner tried to retrieve the dog. They eventually retrieved the dog, they were bit and they called the ambulance,” Dave Olsen, Boise National Forest, told the station.

Veterinarian Randy Achersays that dog owners who find themselves with a dog in hot water should quickly pull the dog out of the water and, if possible, get the dog into a cool creek to minimize the damage. I’m not sure how many cool creeks are around hot springs, but apparently the two can go together sometimes.

Keepyour dog far from hot springs when you’re hiking anywhere near them. And leash up in these areas, even if leashes are not the law. Better yet, if you’ll be hiking near hot springs,let your dog sit on your couch, put Animal Planet on the TV, and you hike on your own while she enjoys a couple of hours of “It’s Me or the Dog” and “Animal Cops.”When you return, she may need her own little walk, but at least she won’t need the emergency room.

(Photo credit: Flickr Photostream of Zunkkis)