Doggie Water and Swim Safety Tips!

For many people, summertime is the time to take to the water. And if your dog enjoys swimming, too, it can be great fun and exercise for dogs as well as people. But as always, safety should come first. Here are some reminders to keep everyone safe while swimming this summer!

Staffie standing in the ocean

Not all dogs can swim.

Not all dogs can swim, so if you don’t know for sure that your dog can swim, don’t take chances. Introduce her to the water slowly. Start with shallow water and slowly move out with her to deeper water. She may just take off swimming. If she doesn’t, but seems more hesitant than afraid, help her by holding her hind legs up so all four feet tread water.

Keep swimming lessons short—not more than 15 minutes at a time—at first. She can tire very quickly. You can introduce a puppy to the water once she’s four to six months old.

Don’t push, throw or otherwise force your dog into the water if she doesn’t want to go. She might panic which could lead to her drowning. Or she might develop such a fear of water she never goes near it again.

Wait an hour after meals.

Remember when your mom used to tell you to wait an hour after eating before you go swimming? Well, that’s good advice for dogs, too. She might not need to wait quite that long, but don’t let her go for a dip right after eating a big meal.

Remember the sunscreen.

Did you know that dogs, especially those with short coats, or white or light-colored fur, can get sunburned and even get skin cancer? To avoid these scary issues, use a dog-safe sunscreen on her. Re-apply it after she swims, and use it often and generously to protect her from the sun’s rays.

Beagle puppy jumping in the pool to fetch a toy

Use floating toys.

Playing fetch with your dog by throwing a toy into a lake, pond, or pool can be a fun way to exercise your dog. It not only tires them physically but also stimulates their minds to look for the toys you’re throwing. But be sure to use a toy that floats. She’ll be able to see the toy better, and you can keep a closer eye on her when she swims out for it.

Take fresh water for your dog to drink.

Swimming can make your dog thirsty. Be sure to bring plenty of fresh water for her to drink. There can be algae and bacteria in lakes or ponds that can hurt her, so it’s best to try and keep your pooch from drinking that water. The salt-water of the ocean doesn’t do her any good, either. And the chlorine and other chemicals in pools can make her very sick if she drinks that water.

Fresh water swimming.

Taking your dog to a lake or pond can be a really fun experience. But even a strong swimmer can over-extend herself and get into trouble. It’s a good idea to put a life vest on your dog. If she swims too far from shore, you can swim or take a boat out to her. Many pet life vests have handles on them to make it easier for you to hoist her out of the water.

Consider getting her a reflective collar as well. That can make her easier to spot in the water. You can also get her a matching reflective lead which will make it easier for both of you to be seen when you’re walking back to your house, the car, or your campground.

Golden wearing life vest on a boat

Dog friendly beaches.

Going to the beach this summer? More and more beaches are now allowing dogs to take part in the summertime fun, too! They can be a great place to take your dog to swim and run. Consider a getting her a life vest and reflective collar both to keep your dog safe and also to make her easier to see. You will also want to make note of the dog beach rules and be sure to follow them. 

Also, beware of the sand. Dry sand can be too hot on her feet. Wet sand is cooler, but can stick to toys. As she plays fetch, the sand falls off in her mouth, she swallows it, and it can obstruct her digestive tract. Throw her toys into the water or keep them on dry sand.

Your own pool.

If you have a pool in your backyard, you and your dog have a great way to get some exercise. Make sure your pool has a ramp or steps so your dog can get in and out of the pool easily. Also make sure she knows where they are so she can get out if she accidentally falls in.

And as you would with your kids, make sure she doesn’t drink the pool water or swim unsupervised. You could consider fencing the pool with a gate that closes automatically so she doesn’t decide to take a midnight swim when she’s out for a potty-break.

If you practice water safety with your dog as you do with the rest of your family, you can all have a ton of fun swimming the summer away!

By: Pam Hair

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