Sprinkler, stream, lake, or pool; the truth is, many canines enjoy a good frolic in the water. A splash or soak are excellent remedies on hot days or when your dog has boundless energy, but any time in or near water can be perilous for your precious pooch.
Drowning and near-drowning experiences are real threats to your dog’s livelihood. Because of this, having a handle on dog swimming safety remains our top priority.
A Good Swimmer?
It’s not called the doggie paddle by accident, right? Sure, many dogs have the four-legged swimming technique down pat, but breeds with shorter legs or broader chests struggle toward effective buoyancy. As a result, these dogs are in danger of drowning simply because they are not using the hind legs to paddle.
Similarly, if your pet has a medical condition, such as arthritis, obesity, seizures, blindness, or dementia, or irregular heart rhythm, he or she may be at a higher risk of facing an accident.
The antidote to your dog’s body type, skill level, and current state of health may be found in a snug-fitting life jacket. Likewise, if you ever have to go after your dog please consider wearing one for yourself.
A Close Eye
Even if your dog is an experienced swimmer, he or she can quickly overwork him or herself and become exhausted (we all know those canines obsessed with retrieving). Remaining on high alert of your dog’s location and comfort level are major tenets of dog swimming safety, as well as:
- Not allowing your dog to swim too far away from the shore or boat
- Teaching your dog to use all four legs when paddling, especially if he or she does not have (or will not wear) a life jacket
- Watching for any signs of distress, such as splashing or holding breath, or any signs of fatigue, such as imbalanced paddling
- Excessive panting could indicate that your dog is experiencing heat stroke while swimming or retrieving items in the water. Stop your dog’s activities if your see dark pink tongue and gums, any staggering or physical impairments. Seek emergency care.
- Providing fresh drinking water will discourage your dog from drinking from the pond, pool, or lake, minimizing bacteria, Giardia, or leptospirosis.
- Rinsing off your dog’s coat and skin after a day in the water. His or her ears may also benefit from a cleanse to reduce yeast growth or infection.
- Keeping a close eye on water hazards, such as other watercraft, other animals (including big fish and sharks!), fishing line and hooks, and fast-moving water or currents.
Dog Swimming Safety and Training
If your dog is young or new to you, it’s a great idea to teach him or her how to approach the pool, hot tub, lake, or another body of water. Take your time, establish trust, have patience, and:
- Train your dog where the points of entry and exit are, and always have stairs, ramps, or platforms for him or her to use at home.
- Get him or her to continually find the way out via a leash and repetition.
- The installation of a fence or gate, and even an alarm around the swimming area, are fantastic additions to your approach to dog swimming safety.
Your dog’s summer probably won’t be complete without a healthy jaunt to the shoreline or river bank. However, due to the year round access to pools and hot tubs, it’s absolutely essential to have a handle on dog swimming safety. That way, your dog can remain in good health for all the months of the year.