Sizzling Sun and Furry Fun. Keeping Your Dog Safe In The Water This Summer
With the summer vacations here at last, many of us will be looking forward to lots of family fun and holiday sun. As the weather gets warmer, taking a dip may come high on our list of favorite things to do. Our dogs included. Follow our easy tips about water safety for dogs and ensure your pooch has fun and stays out of trouble.
Swimming and playing in water is very physical
Swimming can be great exercise as it involves the use of all the muscles required for movement, but without the concussive effects of running on ground baked hard by the summer sun.
Before taking your dog swimming, ask your vet to check them over, as although water offers some buoyancy, it also provides resistance, making muscles work harder than when on dry land. A five-minute swim is reckoned to be the equivalent of a five-mile hike!
Take care that your dog doesn’t overdo things – they may be having so much fun that they don’t know when to stop. They may carry on chasing after toys for as long as you are prepared to keep throwing them, and can become exhausted.
Remember, too, that as your dog grows older they won’t have the same stamina as they did in their youth and, if arthritic, may pay the price later, rather than benefiting
Always keep a close eye on your dog’s activities around water; as with humans, event the best swimmers sometimes get into difficulties. Dogs cannot float or tread water like we can . If they become tired and stop swimming, they sink!
Some dogs are natural swimmers. Some are more like furry bricks
Some breeds, such as Labradors and Newfoundlands, are renowned for their love of water but not all dogs are so keen. If yours prefers to keep his feet dry, don’t throw them in, as you’ll just confirm any anxieties they have. You may be able to change their mind if you spend time gradually introducing them, making sure that they feel confident and have fun. A paddling pool can be a good start!
Some dogs such as the French Bulldog just aren’t built for swimming. Those with very short muzzles, large and heavy heads in proportion to their bodies, or short legs can be dangerously disadvantaged in the water; pop a flotation jacket on for safety.
Even if your dog is a good swimmer, if you are planning any outings in a boat, kit them out in a flotation jacket in case they fall (or jumps) overboard. As well as helping to keep keep their head above water and giving you something to grab hold of to lift them back on deck, it will make it easier for you to spot them and for other boaters to avoid hitting them.
Water Safety For Dogs at the Seaside
Taking a dip in the sea is the highlight of an outing to the beach for many dogs, but supervise them carefully.
Choose days when it’s fairly calm, especially if it’s a new experience for them, as waves breaking over their head or knocking them over may panic even an experienced swimmer.
Observe any warnings, especially for rip currents, and try to find beaches which don’t abruptly drop away leaving them suddenly and unexpectedly out of their depth.
Make sure you have a good recall established too, as some dogs may become so determined to retrieve a toy thrown for them that they will swim too far out to retrieve it, better to lose the toy than your pet.
Keep an eye out for other hazards too, such as jellyfish, and afterwards give them a good rinse with fresh water to remove salt and sand from their coat.
Not all beaches are dog friendly, while some may only permit dogs at certain times of the year.
..And by the river
A river can seem like a good place to take your dog for a swim, but as with beaches, they are not always ideal. They are often very cold, and sometimes may be running faster than you realise, leading to the current sweeping your dog downstream.
Although they may look clean and clear, bear in mind that there may be contamination from run-off of herbicides and fertilisers from land on each side. Look for areas where banks are shallow – if they are steep and slippery it will be difficult for your pet to climb out .
Safe fun water play for all dogs. Even those that lack confidence
A great way of promoting water safety for dogs is to introduce your pooch to water gently. A paddling pool in the garden can provide just as much fun for your dog as swimming, and even non-swimmers will often enjoy splashing around in it.
You can buy rigid plastic clam shells sold as children’s sand pits; add a rubber bath mat to the bottom to stop slipping, and fill with water.
If you need something bigger, you can buy sturdy canvas paddling pools with self-supporting walls designed specifically for dogs.
- Increase the entertainment value, and encourage reluctant paddlers to dip a toe in by floating treats (small pieces of frankfurter work well) and water toys on the surface.
- Watering the garden with a hose can turn from a chore into a game with some dogs, who will leap around chasing and biting at the jet of water as it moves. Don’t direct the water at them or into their face though.
Similarly, an ordinary lawn sprinkler or a Crazy Daisy with its unpredictable movement not only helps to keep your lawn green in dry weather, but can be an irresistible attraction for your pet,although do keep an eye on them to ensure that they don’t try to pick it up in their mouth or bite at it.
If using a power washer however, leave your dog safely indoors where they can’t be tempted to check it out, as the powerful flow could cause injury .
Not all water is appropriate for your dog to play
An important part of observing water safety for dogs is understanding which water sources are good for play and which are not.
Standing water is not always a good place to allow your dog to swim; ornamental features may have been treated to keep the water clear; remember that just because it looks clean doesn’t mean it is safe for your dog. In recent years, blue-green algae has also been a problem, and can be potentially fatal if your dog ingests it.
Swimming pools can also be less than ideal places to allow your dog to swim as chlorine in the water can be very irritating to the skin and eyes and unless there are graduated steps your dog will be unable to climb out. Even if there are steps, dogs can become disorientated in the water and fail to find their way out, so pools should be effectively dog-proofed to keep them out.
- Fencing pools off securely is a sensible precaution; a cover isn’t sufficient as dogs can find their way in under them and
As an additional back up you might like to invest in electronic sensors which detect changes in pressure or when the surface of the water is disturbed, and emit a loud warning alarm.
Where there’s water there may be anglers too. Keep your dog on the lead if this is the case so you can keep them away from bait boxes and any dangers posed by hooks, lines, and irate fishermen.
Avoid letting your dog swim in canals , which can be dirty and dangerous beneath the surface as well as the danger posed by passing boats. Vertical sides also make it impossible for your dog to get out without assistance.
Water everywhere but not a drop to drink..
Swimming can be thirsty work, but don’t let your dog drink from what they have just been swimming in or from puddles either. Carry fresh water with you to offer them instead; salty sea water can make them ill, while fresh water, no matter how clean it may look, could be contaminated .
Don’t let your dog get too cold
Even at the height of summer, water can be very cold, so take this into account if your dog is young, elderly, or suffers from arthritis. Some dogs just can’t get enough of it no matter what the temperature and may jump in regardless of the weather. In winter this can lead to hypothermia, so if necessary keep your dog on the lead until you are well past the water.
After taking a dip, stand well clear while your dog shakes the water from their coat, after which be ready with a couple of towels to dry him off as thoroughly as possible. If they are soaked through, even the lightest of breezes can lead to them quickly becoming chilled.
- Microfibre towels are easy to carry with you, and it may be worth investing in a drying coat too, which will wick any remaining moisture away from the skin while keeping your pet warm at the same time
Fond memories are often made when our dogs and families are playing and having fun in the water. This is especially so on long hot lazy summer days. Just keep in mind these simple tips about water safety for dogs and help keep the fun safe.