Fishing and Boating Safety for Pets

Here are a few examples of the hooks removed from pets by the veterinarians at Animal Emergency and Critical Care Center of Brevard.

If you are experiencing a pet emergency, please call our hospital at 321-725-5365 for immediate assistance.

It is not uncommon here on Florida’s Space Coast to take your pets along with you for a day on the water. We love spending time on the water and we love spending time with our pets.  The two can work together if you keep an eye out for your furry friend.


Pets are great companions while fishing, but they are often attracted by shiny lures and bait. If a hook gets embedded in the dog’s paw, mouth, esophagus or stomach it may require special care. We do not recommend attempting to remove this by yourself.  Owners who attempt removing the object themselves risk causing severe damage to their pets and themselves. From a veterinary perspective, it may require sedation, minor surgery and/or endoscopy and pain medications.

 What To Watch For

Some fishing bait, like minnows, leaches, or frogs, are delicacies for dogs and attract their attention. Even artificial baits contain attractant smells or shiny colors that lure your dog towards your hook. Due to the multiple barbs on the hooks, fishhooks can be very difficult to remove. Excessive damage can also be caused if you pull on the fishing line and hook, which can be deadly if mouth tissue, esophagus, or stomach is torn. If you see fishing line hanging out of your pet’s mouth, never pull on it.  Immediately seek the help of a veterinarian.

Fishing accidents usually occur when baited hooks are left unattended and accidentally swallowed or get stuck in tissue (like the mouth, cheek, or paw). Swallowing fishing line can also be a medical emergency, and result in damage to the lining of the esophagus and/or stomach and may cause intestinal obstruction.

Care for hook injuries

If the hook (including the barb) is embedded in a paw, immediately cover it (to prevent further damage or your pet from chewing, licking, or swallowing it), and take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

If the hook is in the mouth or not visible, keep him/her calm and take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

If your pet swallowed a fishhook, anesthesia and endoscopy or surgery may be necessary to carefully remove the hook; in addition, stomach protectants and antibiotics are needed for a few days to reduce any irritation or ulceration to the esophagus and stomach as well to control secondary infections.


Always keep unused lures and bait covered and away from inquisitive pets.

  • If possible, only prepare a single lure at a time, covering all equipment and bait as quickly as possible.
  • When casting your line, it’s always best to have your pet secured in a safe area; haphazard casting can result in a hook getting stuck in your pet or even a human friend!

Boating & Swimming SAFETY

Pet Life Jacket Image Courtesy of Top Paw and Petsmart.

Pet Life Jacket Image Courtesy of Top Paw(R) and Petsmart.

Some dogs can drown very easily.  Always supervise your pet while they are swimming outdoors. Most dogs will naturally dog paddle but some tire very quickly. Short, stocky dogs and lean bodied dogs with small toes were just not designed for swimming. Even those that are can get tired in a long swim, become injured or become overwhelmed by a current.

A life jacket is the best bet to minimize your pet’s risk of drowning.

Things to Look for in a pet life jacket:

  • Durable materials and rugged construction
  • A grab handle for lifting your dog into the boat and holding on to them

Safety NoteNever tie your dog to a boat or dock. They can easily pull over a small boat or become entangled in the leash and drown.

About Animal Emergency and Critical Care Center of Brevard (AECC):

AECC is Brevard County’s most comprehensive group of emergency and specialty veterinary professionals.  We are located at 2281 W. Eau Gallie Blvd | Melbourne, FL 32935. You can reach us at 321-725-5365. A veterinarian is always on duty and we are open 24 hours a day, every day of the week.


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For more pet health and safety information visit our website at