Swimming is a fun way for your dog to exercise and cool off, as well as a great way for you to bond with your pet.
Here are some important water safety and swimming tips that are critical to the safety of you and your dog.
Water Hazards to Avoid and Best Breeds for a Swim
The water can be a fun place to go and exercise, but it’s not without its risks. Potential hazards include drowning, poor water quality, toxins in the water, infectious agents or parasites, exposure to other animals, and possible trauma from things in the water that are not visible. Learn more about these possible threats in The Importance of Pet Water Safety During the Summer Months.
Some dogs are really great swimmers and comfortable in the water, while others are not. Breeds known to be good swimmers include the Standard Poodle, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Newfoundland, Portuguese Water Dog, American Water Spaniel, Irish Water Spaniel, English Setter, Irish Setter, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and Spanish Water Dog. Lots of mixed-breed dogs are also good swimmers.
Any dog can be a skilled swimmer, but some breeds that are not known for their swimming abilities are the Pug, French Bulldog, Shih Tzu, Basset Hound, Boxer, Corgi, Chow Chow, Maltese, Pomeranian, and Dachshund.
Check out this video from DOGTV for everything you need to know about swimming with your pup: Swimming – DOGTV
14 Swimming with Dogs Safety Tips
Here are 14 tips to help keep you and your dog safe when you are swimming together:
- Supervision. Ensure your dog is supervised while they are in the water. Things can happen quickly. A dog can get caught on something in the water or in the current.
- Life vest. Get a life vest or water safety jacket for your dog. Even dogs that are good swimmers can have problems. Choose a style that is comfortable for your dog and has a handle over the back so you can lift them out of the water if needed.
- Have an exit strategy. Ensure your dog has an exit ramp to get out of the water and knows how to use it. Show your dog how to get in and out of the water. Dogs can drown as they struggle to get out of pools or deep lakes without an accessible shoreline.
- Restrict access. Prevent water access when you are not around. Dogs are capable of falling or jumping into the pool at any moment, and frozen bodies of water are just as risky for curious pups.
- Monitor water temperature. Ensure the water temperature is neither too hot nor too cold for your dog.
- Monitor water quality. If you are swimming in a lake, pond, or stream, it is important to be alert for signs of algae bloom. Some forms of algae can be toxic to dogs and people. Additionally, if you have a pond on your property, consider having the water tested for bacteria or toxins.
- Provide quality drinking water. Take plenty of fresh clean drinking water for both you and your dog when swimming together. This will help minimize your dog’s desire to drink from the pool, pond, or ocean. Additionally, it is important not to allow your dog to drink too much. Learn more in this article: Why You Should Keep Your Dog From Drinking Too Much Water.
- Boat access. If you are swimming with dogs off a boat, make sure that you have a dog-safe ramp to help your dog get out of the water if they jump in for a swim. Learn more about How to Ensure Safety When Boating With Dogs.
- Monitor for signs of heat stroke. Many dogs LOVE the water and what is better than having fun with their best friend. However, some dogs will overdo it, especially if they are working hard swimming in direct sunlight. Take frequent breaks and ensure your dog has plenty of water to drink. Signs of heat exhaustion include excessive panting, fatigue, and/or lethargy. This can quickly advance to signs of heat stroke such as collapse, weakness, vomiting, bleeding, and death. Learn more about Heat Stroke in Dogs.
- Prevent fishing hook hazards. Keep your dog away from fishing bait and poles. Some dogs will step on or even try to eat the bait and swallow the hook which can be a huge problem. Learn more about How to Remove a Fishhook in Your Dog.
- Monitor the water exits for hazards. Just as it is important to ensure your dog can get out of the water, it is important to understand that there are hazards lurking along the edges. Glass and metal can wash up on beaches and shores, and debris in the water can cut your dog’s paws.
- Post swim bath. Just as we often like to shower after swimming, dogs can benefit from an after-swimming bath as well. This helps rid them of pool chemicals such as chlorine, algaecides, and baking soda you place in your pool, not to mention parasites, bacteria, and algae that can be on your dog’s fur from lakes or the ocean.
- Dry out. Dry your dog’s ears after swimming to prevent infections. Some of the adorable floppy-eared dogs have ears that never dry out if they get water in them, making them prone to infection.
- Animals and parasites. The ocean can has sea lice and jellyfish that are capable of bothering dogs. Sea lice are microscopic organisms that can cause severe itching. Jellyfish can sting dogs causing swelling and pain. Other dangers include snakes and alligators, depending on your location. Check with your veterinarian if you have any concerns that your dog might have been bitten or infected.
If you don’t have time to go swimming with your dog, one thing you can do is create a doggy pool at home. Learn how in this article: Keep Your Dog Cool With a Doggy Pool This Summer.
We hope these tips help prep you for swimming with your dog.
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