Contrary to popular belief all dogs are NOT born Olympic swimmers. You cannot just throw a dog into a pool or pond and expect them to know what they’re doing. In fact, some breeds sink like a stone. When it comes to swimming safety treat your four-legged kids just like the two-legged. Safety first and better safe than sorry. Swimming and water sports are just as dangerous for a dog as they are for anyone else.
Our dogs love swimming more than our kids do! Ponds are like a watery wonderland; they dive after fish, swim after balls, and play tag with each other. And our pool is just a great way to cool off on a hot day. Swimming truly is just an all-around great exercise for any dog! As with everything else in life it’s not all rainbows and daisies! Swimming fun can turn dangerous for dogs in an instant.
Here are our 7 top swimming safety tips to keep your dog swimming like a champ all summer long!
1 Don’t Assume Your Dog Can Swim
You wouldn’t throw a toddler right into the deep end of a pool would you? Dogs are no different. Take the time to slowly introduce young dogs to water and help them learn to swim with confidence. Every dog is different and until you know their skill level you should assume they CAN’T swim.
2 Life Jackets Are Great for Swimming Safety
Did you know that some dog breeds can’t swim without a life vest? It’s totally true! Dogs with short legs and heavily muscled bodies have a hard time staying afloat, and brachycephalic dogs (dogs with short snout) fatigue quickly. Even if you have a “water dog” if your planning on spending time boating or kayaking your dog should always be wearing a life jacket.
Dog Breeds That Should ALWAYS Wear Life Jackets:
- Bassett Hound
- Boston Terrier
- Chow Chow
- French Bulldog
- Shar Pei
- Shih Tzu
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
3 Watch Water Quality
The quality of the water your dog is swimming in can have serious effects on your dogs health. It is especially important if you are swimming in natural water ways. There are many little microscopic baddies that can cause some humongous issues for your dog. If your dog spends a lot of his time playing out of doors you should talk with your vet about a leptospirosis vaccination. You also want to stay apprised of any algae blooms especially blue green algae and red tides. Both of these algae can be fatal. To help your dog avoid ingesting any nasties from the water do not allow him to lick himself and be sure to rinse him off thoroughly
4 Take Breaks
When it comes to water play dogs don’t know when to stop, especially if they have friends in the water with them. Older dogs, puppies, and brachycephalic dogs will fatigue quicker. Every 20 to 30 minutes make sure that your dog stops and rests even if that means everyone out of the water.
5 Regulate Water Play
Water intoxication is a very serious and potentially fatal condition commonly caused by excessively drinking during water play. Dogs who love to bite at rushing water like hoses, sprinklers, and waves are at a much higher risk of developing water intoxication. Fido is just having so much fun eating waves he takes in much more water than his body can handle causing electrolytes to become seriously diluted. If your dog starts exhibiting lack of coordination, loss of balance, a staggered walk, and dilated pupils he needs to be rushed to the vet immediately! The only way to prevent this issue for occurring is to limit the amount of time you allow your dog to play in the water, especially if he likes to bite at it.
6 Fence it Off
Water play at home is fun for the whole family but unsupervised access to a pool or pond can have some pretty serious repercussions. Without your knowledge Fido could fatigue and drown before anyone is any wiser. Keeping the pool only accessible under supervision is key. There are several option available. Above ground pools can be gated off with, and inground pool can be covered securely. I do recommend having a pool alarm installed on either style.
7 Take a CPR Course for Pets
You never know when an emergency is going to strike and it’s always better to be prepared than not knowing what to do. CPR courses are offered throughout the year by local humane societies nationwide or online through the Red Cross. The techniques and tools you learn may one day save your dog’s life, or maybe someone else’s dog.
I’m pretty sure our family is insane because when we go camping practically all of our pets go with us. Sure it’s only down to my in-laws way out in the country, but we still drag our 3 goldens and a deaf Maine coon cat. The days are practically spent in one of their two ponds (everyone except the cat who leisurely lounges the day away in our family’s cabin) swimming and splashing and having a good old time. Everyone in our family has been taught how to keep our dogs safe in the water, everyone has to be on the same page.
Water is fun for everyone, but just like people there are some key measures that should be taken to make sure the fun doesn’t end in tragedy. A few small swimming safety measures can make all the difference, trust me. It is ALWAYS better to play it safe than regretting the consequences of not. Enjoy the water all the more this summer knowing you have the knowledge to keep your dog safe.