Keeping your dog cool during the summer months is extremely important. Not only do dogs need to drink lots of water to keep cool—many dogs like to swim as well! Swimming is great exercise and will help to keep your dog from overheating.
Some breeds, like retrievers and spaniels, will be naturals in the water. Other breeds like bulldogs and dachshunds don’t have body types for swimming, so they should always use a life jacket. Don’t forget that not every dog will enjoy swimming. Some dogs will simply be too scared to enjoy the water, even on a hot summer day. In these cases, it’s best to honor the dog’s preference. In this article, we’ll offer some pointers on teaching your dog to swim and then provide you with water health and safety tips.
Teaching Your Dog How to Swim
Begin by playing with your dog in a shallow area, such as a kiddie pool. This will expose your dog to water in a safe environment and demonstrate to him that it’s a fun activity. The next step is to bring your dog to a larger body of water, in most cases a pool.
When you walk into the water, most dogs will follow instead of being left alone. You can also use a leash to coax your dog or give treats for each step into the water. Don’t pressure your dog—it may take a few trips before actual swimming. Eventually, as your dog gets more comfortable in the water, you can venture out deeper. While the dog’s instincts will be to start paddling in deep water, use a life jacket as a precautionary measure. Once your dog starts paddling, make sure your dog is using all four limbs to avoid fatigue. You can put an arm under the dog’s belly to provide support. If your dog starts to panic, return to shallow water and let your dog calm down.
Before allowing your dog free access to the pool, make sure he knows how to get out safely. If a dog falls into a river or lake, his instinct will tell him to turn around and try to get out where he fell in. This may work in a natural body of water, but in a suburban swimming pool, dogs may drown if they adopt this instinctive action. Therefore, it is important to teach your dog to exit the pool from the stairs, regardless of where he went in. This can be done by having your dog repeatedly entering and exiting the pool via the steps until it becomes a habit.
Dog Water Safety Tips Every Owner Should Know
Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, he should always be closely supervised and wear a life jacket when needed. Just like many dogs will chase a Frisbee again and again until they nearly collapse, some dogs will continue swimming without realizing how tired they are. And unlike chasing a ball on land, they have no solid ground on which to rest.
5 Essential Water Safety Tips to Keep Your Dog Healthy
Here is a list of water hazards that pet owners should be aware of when allowing their four-legged family members to swim:
- Never let your dog swim unattended. Whether your dog is swimming in a pool or the ocean, make sure they are swimming close to you or a lifeguard.
- Make Sure the Pool is Dog-Friendly. Build a fence around your pool. This will prevent accidents and protect older animals and those with handicaps from falling into the pool. Also make sure there is an easy way for your pet to exit the pool if they accidentally fall in. If there isn’t a shallow area near the pool steps, consider purchasing a doggy ramp.
- Be mindful of your dog’s pool time. Drinking too much pool water can upset your dog’s stomach. Additionally, Chlorine can irritate your dog’s eyes and respiratory system.
- Be mindful of your dog’s time in the ocean. If your dog swims in the ocean, make sure he doesn’t drink the saltwater. A small amount can cause diarrhea, but consuming a large amount can be fatal to your dog. Whenever you go to the beach, always bring plenty of fresh water for your dog.
- Watch for fatigue. Playing fetch with your dog at the beach is a natural, but be careful not to throw the ball too far. Even the strongest swimmer, canine and human, can be caught off-guard while swimming in the ocean.
4 Water Hazards Dog Owners Should Be Aware Of
- While swimming in the ocean, your dog can encounter a riptide. In an instant, he can be swept out to sea with the current. The smaller the dog, the more difficult this situation might be. Swimming in a spot close to a lifeguard is always a good idea.
- Ear infections are a common ailment among dogs that swim frequently. These infections are often caused by water entering dogs’ ears while swimming and not draining properly. Your veterinarian can prescribe an ear cleaner to clean and dry your dog’s ears after swimming.
- Leptospira is a potentially deadly pathogen found within some lakes and ponds. If your dog has been exposed to or drinks from an infected source, he can contact leptospirosis which is a serious disease.
- Fishhooks can get stuck in a dog’s paws if stepped on, or stuck in their mouth or even swallowed.
Swimming can be a fun and healthy activity for dogs, but it’s important to know the potential perils and take the necessary precautions. Pet insurance can help reimburse you for common conditions that may result from your four-legged friend practicing their doggy paddle. From ear infections to ingested objects, Pets Best, can help give you peace of mind.