Looking to bring some cool relief to your dog this summer? Water is a great source of fun and cooling for your pet, especially in the middle of a heat wave or during hot July temperatures. Water also helps prevent heat exhaustion and is a great source of low impact exercise. Most dogs are natural swimmers and are built for endless rounds of paddling through water, but some are not. This article will help give you some ideas on safeguarding your pooch , training, and other bits of knowledge which can help in making this summer season safe for every dog!
The motion of swimming is very natural for many breeds and dogs. Some dogs even have physical attributes which help them swim like pros, such as the lab retriever’s webbed paws. But on the other hand of the spectrum, there are also breeds that cannot swim properly and would therefore be in danger near the water. Some breeds, such as bulldogs and pugs who are top heavy would more likely sink than not due to their body shape and proportions. These breeds would definitely need extra caution near pool sides and water ways. As well, dogs with certain physical limitations are considered more at risk. These limitations may include injuries, disabilities, very young or very old dogs.
So, how can you possibly safeguard your pet dog this summer AND still let them have fun in the water?
First off, no dog should have access to a pool without being supervised. Just like people who have young children, the pool should be kept fenced off at all times. Monitors can also be used to sound an alarm if someone (a child or a pet) should fall into/enter the pool. When you are there to keep an eye out for your companion, then they can have a little bit of fun splashing around.
Secondly, make sure your pet has easy entry and exit routes in the pool, such as a ramp (scamper ramp) made especially for pets. If you don’t have a ramp, then you need to make sure that your pet knows where the pool stairs/ladder are located in order to exit the pool if they become tired.
And last but not least, if your dog loves the water but isn’t a great swimmer or has a physical limitation, try a canine life jacket. These personal flotation devices are also great for water rescue, as most of them have built in handles along the back. If you are out on a boat ride and your dog becomes exhausted or falls overboard and is unable to swim, this can be a great benefit.
Training is another method of safeguarding your dog against the dangers of water this summer. This is especially important when your dog is near natural bodies of water, which are larger and possibly more dangerous than a swimming pool. The most important training aspect here is making sure your dog listens to you and comes to you when called. If he swims too far away or towards rapids or currents, you can quickly call him back. If your dog is not the best listener, it is advisable to stick to shallow waters for a quick cool off, or by placing your dog on a long leash so that they are able to swim under you control.
Wherever you take your dog for a swim, be aware of any possible dangers. For example: Lakes and ponds are calm bodies of water whereas oceans and rivers can change frequently and become unsafe. Safety concerns in these swim areas may be due to many factors such as rocks and other underwater hazards, currents and tides.
It is also important to know your dog’s own personal limits. Avoid pushing him beyond what he is capable of and look out for signs of fatigue. If your dog becomes tired, he may be at a greater risk of drowning or being swept away. Call him in for a break or call it quits for the day if you notice signs of exhaustion or distress.
It is also advisable to take special precautions with animals exhibiting any physical limitations. This pertains to animals who may have injuries or disabilities, as they may not have the best ability to swim and have less stamina. Those who are very young or old may also find swimming difficult. Puppies can panic in the water, and older dogs become fatigued easily. For these cases, it is very important to keep swim time short and in shallow areas where they can stand and you can reach them if needed.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER:
A very important preventative measure for any pet owner is to learn as much as possible about first aid and medical treatment for their pet. There are first aid courses available which can teach non veterinary staff what to do in an emergency. These courses will also normally cover resuscitative measures such as CPR and are usually available through community centers and colleges. This knowledge can save lives!
We hope this article has covered the majority of your water safety concerns and offered you some helpful tips. But, if you still have any questions or concerns, no matter how small, please feel free to drop by the Lansdowne Animal Hospital. We would be more than happy to address any questions you may have, or at least point you in the right direction for resources. Until then, remember the importance of safety tools, training, being cautious and arming yourself with knowledge.