Summer Water Safety Tips for Your Dog
When it comes to splashing around in water, some dogs just seem to naturally take to it. Others gradually learn to like it. And some spend their entire lives avoiding it.
No matter which category your dog falls into, it’s important to take precautions to keep him safe at the lake, at the beach or at home.
Give Swimming Lessons
All dogs – even those who don’t enjoy water – should learn to be comfortable in and around it. It will help avoid panic if your dog suddenly finds himself unexpectedly immersed. This is especially true if you have a pool or frequently visit another body of water.
Never force a dog into the water but gently encourage him, one paw at a time, with lots of rewards and praise. Once he’s feeling more confident, make it a game by tossing toys into the water, slowly increasing the distance he swims. Most importantly, if you have a pool, teach him how to exit if he accidentally falls in.
Purchase a Life Jacket
A dog-specific life jacket is a must-have for all dogs. Even the strongest, most enthusiastic swimmers can find themselves in trouble if they get overtired or become trapped in a current. Most jackets are adjustable, made with brightly colored fabric (to make your pup easy to spot), and have a handle to help safely get your dog out of the surf.
Be Aware of Perils
No matter where you and your dog are swimming, take note of and avoid potential hazards. For example, there may be broken glass or jellyfish on a beach. Sharp rocks and snakes are often found near lakes. And a dog can easily slip into a swimming pool and find himself unable to get out. Take precautions, like putting up a fence around your pool, to ensure your dog’s safety. Also, make sure your dog has access to plenty of cool, clean water, and apply sunscreen frequently to light colored dogs or those with thin coats (yes, dogs can get sunburned, too).
Keep a close eye on your pup and be ready to call it a day if he appears to be tired or struggling in any way. As with humans, dogs are susceptible to potentially life-threatening conditions like hyperthermia (overheating) or hypothermia (low body temperature). Never allow your dog free access to your swimming pool without someone watching over him. Sadly, thousands of pets die each year in pools.
Once your dog is done with his dip, take time to thoroughly rinse and dry him off. Salt, algae and chlorine can dry and irritate his skin. Wipe his eyes with a moistened cotton ball, but be careful not to touch his eyeball with it. Use an ear cleaner and dry your dog’s ears thoroughly, as moisture can quickly cause a harmful and painful bacterial infection.
I’d like to hear from you! If you have questions you’d like me to address on this blog regarding pet health or behavior, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.