Posted 3 months ago ago
Written by Rachel Mainwaring
Summer is finally here and the prospect of taking a dip in a swimming pool is very appealing.
And just as us humans like to splash about in water, many dogs enjoy some splash-tastic fun too.
If you’re considering taking your dog for a swim, here is our guide to swimming safely with your furry friend.
1. Not all dogs are good swimmers
Despite ‘doggy paddle’ having a clear reference to our canine friends, you can’t assume all dogs can swim. Before you take your dog to the water’s edge, remember that certain breeds and sizes of dogs are better suited to swimming than others
Medium to large dogs, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, usually take to the water with ease, but dogs with short legs and large chests, such as bulldogs, boxers and dachshunds, can struggle to stay afloat.
The fact is, not all dogs actually like to swim, so if your dog isn’t showing a willingness to get wet, don’t force the situation. Make sure any pool cover in use is a safety cover and not a floating cover. Animals (and kids) can easily drown if they become trapped under a pool cover.
2. Dogs need time to ‘learn’ to swim.
Just as you wouldn’t chuck a child in the water, don’t throw your dog in either. Introduce your dog to the water, gradually and slowly so they feel comfortable. Dogs can tire easily, so don’t keep them in the water for too long, especially if they’re a puppy or older dog. They may have their very own fur coat, but this won’t necessarily stop a dog from getting cold in the water, so keep swim sessions brief to prevent the risk of hypothermia.
Train your dog so that it learns to come out of the water on command, or if you’re using a pool, teach it to get to the edge easily and safely. Retrieving toys are useful to have during water safety and obedience training. Not all dogs are comfortable jumping in a pool or climbing steps to exit. You’ll need to help your dog, especially if the pool only has steps and ladders. A pool with a beach entry or shelf entry is much easier for dogs to enter and exit.
It might also be worth investing in a flotation vest for your dog, especially if you go out on a boat. Buy a vest that has a handle on the back so that you can easily haul your dog out of the water.
3. Look out for possible dangers
Before you let your dog loose in any stretch of water, take a moment to assess how safe it looks. If you’re at the beach, consider whether currents, tides or strong waves could pose a danger. Are there any hidden obstacles lurking under the water that may hurt your dog like broken shells, jellyfish or sharp objects? Does the water look clean? Scan the horizon to see if any boats nearby could cause dangerous undercurrents.
Don’t let your dog in the water unless you are completely certain he or she can easily get back on land. If you wouldn’t enter the water yourself, don’t put your dog at risk either.
4. Think about the type of water they will be swimming in
A properly maintained swimming pool is generally safe for dogs to swim in. Pool water, whether chlorine or saltwater, is not considered harmful but don’t let them drink too much of it.
Everyone who swims ingests some amount of water and children and animals tend to swallow more than adults. Dogs simply don’t know any better and may actively lap up the pool water. Avoid this as drinking too much pool water can lead to an upset of the gastrointestinal tract, leading to nausea, vomiting, and esophageal damage. In rare cases, drinking excessive amounts of pool water can cause a dangerous condition called water intoxication. This causes a major imbalance to the electrolytes in the body, leading to serious and possibly irreversible brain damage.
Also, watch out for blue green algae which can often be found in lakes and ponds. Also known as cyanobacteria, this type of bacteria found in stagnant water can produce toxins that are often fatal to dogs, even when exposed to small amounts. Blue green algae is toxic for dogs and can cause liver failure. If your dog is showing these symptoms, call a vet immediately.
5. Make sure you provide some after swim, after care
Getty - AleksandarNakic
Pool chemicals can cause skin irritation and dryness in both humans and animals, especially if they swim often. Rinse your dog’s coat after swimming and check the skin regularly for redness, flaking, or other issues.
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