As we prepare to dive into summer, many of us are thinking about how much we love lakes, the ocean, rivers, ponds, pools, and being on boats. We know quite a few dogs who love these activities, too! So the team at Animal Medical Hospital thought the time was right to share some tips for swimming safety for dogs.
It may come as some surprise, but not all dogs are natural swimmers. Some dog breeds (bulldogs, pugs, basset hounds) and body conformations (large bodies and short legs) just don’t lend themselves well to the water. So, before you head out on that water adventure, make sure that your dog has the skill and inclination to swim by learning a little more about safety in the water.
Swimming Safety for Dogs
Even if your dog can swim, many dogs can benefit from a swimming lesson or two. Here are some tips when it comes to swimming safety for dogs.
- Choose a shallow area to start in
- Keep a leash on your dog while they’re learning to swim
- Keep it positive and fun
- Gradually lead your dog to deeper water
- Support them by placing an arm under the belly when they paddle
- Never force them into water if they don’t want to go in
Swimming pools can be great fun for humans and dogs alike, but they bear some specific safety precautions.
Fence it – Make sure your pool has a fence around it, and also consider an alarm that is triggered when the surface of the water is broken by a dog or child falling in.
Ramp it – Some dogs don’t understand how to get out of a pool, so you need to take some time to teach them where the steps are and how to get out. Consider a ramp at the opposite end of the pool steps, to give your dog another exit point.
Supervise it – It goes without saying, but your dog should never be unsupervised around water. Surfaces around the pool can be hot, and your dog will need access to fresh drinking water frequently as they swim.
In the Lake
If you’re planning on a lake trip or are going boating with your dog, keep these tips in mind.
Save a life – On a boat, your dog should always wear a life vest. Even strong swimmers can be at risk.
In and out – Dogs can’t access boat ladders, so make sure you are strong enough to get your dog out of the water and back into the boat.
Train for it – Obedience training is important in many situations, and helps keep your dog safe. Be sure your dog has a strong recall, and bring treats and extra toys to help lure them back to safety if they get into trouble.
At the Beach
Being at the beach is a joy for many dogs we know. Here are some beach goer tips for swimming safety for dogs.
Read the conditions – Ocean conditions change frequently. Be able to observe and read the tides, currents, and underwater hazards.
Rinse off – Salt water and sand can wreak havoc on your dog’s skin, ears, and coat. Have access to fresh water to rinse off post swim.
Know thy dog – Some dogs have such a strong retrieval instinct that they will exhaust themselves before they quit. Know your dog’s fitness and ability and stop before they are too tired. A tired dog is more susceptible to drowning.
Some Final Thoughts
In addition to these place-specific tips, we always recommend that your have our 24-hour veterinary hospital phone number and address pre-programmed into your phone and your car GPS.
You may also like to consider attending a pet first aid and pet CPR course. A near-death dog can be helped by your quick actions, if you know what to do.
We hope we’ve given you some useful tips for swimming safety with dogs this summer. If you have any questions or need more help, please give us a call. We’re always here for you and your dog.