Dog-Friendly Watering Holes in Central Texas


Summer in Central Texas is the optimal time to pursue endless outdoor adventures with your best friend! One of the best things you and your dog can do during the hot summer afternoons is cool off at a local watering hole.

Here are a few dog-friendly watering holes in Central Texas:

Barking Springs

The well-known Barton Springs may be for humans only, but located just downstream is Barking Springs, a spot for both humans and their furry pals! Swim together at the spillway for Barton Springs aka “Barking Springs” in the refreshing, 68-degree natural spring water to cool yourself off during the hottest Texas summer days.

Barton Creek Greenbelt Preserve

You may have heard the advice from locals to pursue all your outdoor activities at the Barton Creek Greenbelt Preserve, but it’s also a great dog-friendly place to take your best pal. Although this park requires your best friend to be on a leash at all times, you can still pursue fun summer activities such as swimming, hiking, running and rock climbing together!

Red Bud Isle

If you could ever dream of a natural oasis for dogs, this would be it. The park sits on Town Lake, just below the Tom Miller Damn. It’s a peninsula surrounded by the lake where dogs can swim and run around in the comfort of the shaded paths within this 13-acre leash-free park. Water dogs, unite!

Cedar Bark Park

If you’re not keen on getting wet, but want your dog to have all the fun, check out the Cedar Bark Park! Located North of Austin in Cedar Park, the Cedar Bark Park is a 5-acre off-leash dog park with a pond, showers, and dog water fountains. Which means plenty of opportunities for your pup to dive in! They even have separate areas for large and small dogs.

Tips for taking your dog swimming for the first time:

  • Take it slow and don’t assume your dog can swim

While some dogs take naturally to the water and aren’t afraid to dive in, others may not have the physical capacity to swim or maybe cautious of a large body of water. A lifejacket for your dog is usually a good precaution to take if you’re swimming in large bodies of water.

  • Watch for certain advisories, closures, and presence of anything harmful

Many public watering holes such as lakes or beaches are monitored for bacteria and when the levels become too high, they’ll likely close. Stay tuned to alerts and advisories – whether on social media or at the entrance of these public spaces. Additionally, be sure to avoid any areas with blue-green algae, where exposure or ingestion is often fatal for dogs.

In some areas, you won’t immediately know of dangers until you come upon them. It’s wise to remember that while you’re swimming, you aren’t the only creatures out there. While having fun swimming with your dog, make sure you remain aware of your surroundings and avoid rocky areas and areas in the water that are shallow and calm.

  • Don’t let them drink from the ponds, lake or even the ocean

While it’s sometimes inevitable to keep your dog from ingesting some of the water – especially if they’re in it, try your best to keep them from drinking from any pond, lake or ocean as much as possible. These bodies of water often have bacteria lurking and can be harmful to your dog’s stomach.

Additionally, the high salt content from the ocean can make your dog temporarily sick and can lead to very serious dehydration – and quickly. Anytime you take your dog swimming or to the beach, bring along plenty of fresh water for them.

  • Talk to your veterinarian about preventative medicine

If you’re planning on spending a lot of time outdoors with your pet, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian ahead of time about preventative medication and what’s best for your pet. Pests and bacteria are much more prevalent during the summer and because the weather is nicer and you’re likely to spend more time outdoors, your dog is more susceptible to things like ticks, fleas, and harmful bacteria.