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Posted on 07-28-2016

Dogs and Water Safety

With summer winding down, many people are taking the opportunity to hit the lake or the pool before school starts again. Water can be a great source of fun for you and your dog, and provides great low-impact exercise for older dogs. But, keep in mind that not all dogs are natural-born swimmers.  So before you let your dog “take the plunge”, make sure he or she is comfortable in the water.  The younger your buddy is when you teach him to swim, the better. Keep the lesson positive and stress-free.

The only way to gauge your pal's swimming skills is to introduce them to water and carefully watch their reaction:

  • Choose a quiet, shallow spot in the water.
  • Keep your dog on a leash while he’s learning.
  • Get in the water with him.
  • Start at the edge of the water, and stay as long as he enjoys it.
  • Don’t force him in -- especially if it’s a deep spot -- if he doesn’t want to go.
  • When your dog begins to paddle with his front legs, lift his hind legs to show him how to float.
  • Consider using a specially designed doggie life vest
  • Check the water temperature before letting your dog take a dip. Only a few breeds can tolerate very cold water.

At the Beach

While you enjoy the surf with your pup, keep these tips in mind:

  • Watch out for strong currents and rip tides, which can take you both out to sea. Even the best swimmer can be in danger when seas are rough.
  • Don’t let your dog drink ocean water. It can make him sick. Bring fresh water with you to keep him hydrated.
  • Keep your pal away from fish that have washed onto the shore. They may smell great to him, but they can make him ill if ingested, and if he decides to roll in it, it will make the ride home unpleasant for you!

In the Pool

Got a swimming hole in your backyard? Keep it Fido-friendly with these steps:

  • Put a fence around it to keep your dog out when it isn’t time to swim.
  • Keep a sturdy cover over it when you aren’t using it. It should be made of a material that lets rainwater drain through. Dogs can drown in puddles on top of pool covers.
  • Teach your dog how to get in and out. Make sure there are steps or a ramp he can use to climb out.

At the Lake

  • Get your dog a life jacket, especially if you take him out on a boat or a dock.
  • Steer clear of bodies of water with blue-green algae. It can make your buddy sick.
  • Check the current of a river or a creek. Make sure it isn’t too strong to let your dog swim.
  • Keep your pal away from fishing gear. Sharp hooks and barbs can get stuck in the skin, or worse, your dog could ingest them.

General Safety Rules

No matter where your pooch makes a splash, follow these pointers:

  • Rinse him off after he’s been in any type of water. Seawater minerals, salt, chlorine, algae, and pollution can irritate or damage his skin and fur.
  • Remove his flea collar before he swims. Water can wash off its active ingredients.
  • Dry your dog’s ears completely to prevent an infection. Try an ear cleaner that has a drying agent in it.
  • Learn canine CPR. Mouth-to-nose resuscitation and chest compressions could save a dog’s life in an emergency.
  • Never leave your pal alone in the water.

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