10 Water Safety Tips for Your Furry Best Friend!

Check out these 10 awesome tips for how to keep your dog safe in the water this Summer!

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Source: 4 Legs and a Tail Magazine

1. Not all dogs are good swimmers.

Dogs are not born knowing how to swim; it is a learned skill. Don’t assume your dog will be able to stay afloat. Dogs can drown just as fast (or faster) than people. Some dogs paddle better than others and some dogs sink like a stone. Generally, heavy dogs with short legs find swimming a real challenge. While most dogs enjoy the water, some breed’s physical limitations inhibit them from swimming; others just don’t enjoy the water. Do your research; read about your breed and consider how your pet might respond in the water.

2. Don’t force it; take it slowly.

Many people playfully toss their dog into the water, assuming the dog will naturally start swimming. Forcing your dog can be a dangerous and traumatic experience. Many dogs are fearful the first time they encounter water. Even if your dog has never had a scary experience in the pool, it may not like being unable to touch the bottom. Take the time to build confidence around the water. Try out shallow water first; buying a kiddies’ pool to get comfortable in the water is less intimidating.

3. Keep your dog close, but not too close.

Don’t let him swim too far away from you. Even dogs that swim well can tire quickly, even faster than you. They don’t understand resting or treading water – they just swim and swim, until they can’t anymore. Beware the “strike zone” of the thrashing legs and feet; it is easy to get tangled, scratched badly, or pulled under water as your dog tries to climb onto your shoulders in a panic.

4. Have an exit strategy.

Make sure there is always an easy way out of the water for your dog, and they know how to use it. A thrashing dog trying to escape will get tired and may drown. If stairs are inconvenient or hard for your dog, consider floating ramps or “doggy ramps” on the stairs. Companies make portable ramps for bringing your dog to a lake or pool away from home. Ensuring an exit is available could save his life, should he fall in by accident.

5. Pets should never be left unsupervised around water.

Dogs may need assistance when in trouble and cannot always bark to get someone’s attention. Fenced pool areas should not be used as a dog yard. If your dog is old, has a heart condition or a seizure disorder, keep them away from the pool.

6. No drinking in the pool.

Discourage your dog from drinking large amounts of water while swimming. Chlorine and chemicals in the pool, salt in the ocean, and bacteria in lakes can all make your pet sick. Chlorine in the pool is safe, when used at levels used for people. However, a dog’s eyes, nose and ears are more sensitive than a human’s and may be irritated easier. Some pool owners opt for non-chlorine chemicals like bromine which may be less harmful to pets. A clean bowl of fresh water available nearby is an alternative. If your dog ingests a large amount of sea water, seek veterinary attention as the salt could lead to a life threatening emergency. Do not allow pets to swim in water covered by a green sheen. This may be blue green algae which produces a serious toxin for pets, even in small quantities.

7. Stay afloat.

Dogs spending time on or around the water should wear a life jacket specifically designed for dogs. A must for new or non-swimmers, also a good idea for experienced swimmers. Like people, dogs may develop a leg cramp, become exhausted far from shore, or in rivers or oceans, be overwhelmed by currents and tides. In a boat, your dog should wear a life preserver. If he jumps or falls into the water, it will keep him afloat, make him easier to spot, and give you something to grab to get him back into the boat.

8. Lock down.

A barrier around your pool ensures pets and children cannot wander into the pool area and accidentally fall in. Self-closing and locking gates are best. Consider a pool alarm to warn you the pool water has been disturbed. Collar alarm kits specifically for pets are available from The Safety Turtle http://www.safetyturtle.com/purchase/safety-turtle-pet-kit  Secure solar pool blankets; these can be hazardous if a dog falls in and gets trapped under them, or becomes disoriented. The weight of the blanket can also push dogs under.

9. Shower time!

Give a post-swim rinse with fresh warm water to wash away chemicals, bacteria or dirt he might have picked up while swimming. Dry your dog well, especially thick, long hair coats. Remove wet collars; “hot spots” can easily develop from moisture collecting in thick fur. Large floppy ears are susceptible to ear infections if water gets into the ear canals. Dry ear canals with tissue and watch for debris buildup or odor.

10. Talk to your veterinarian.

Veterinary assistance should be sought for dogs rescued from a near drowning incident. Complications including hypothermia, pneumonia or fluid build-up in the lungs can occur. If you have any questions or concerns, you should visit or call your veterinarian – your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets!

 

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