Summer is in full swing and you know what that means – swimming season! Whether you and your dog plan on spending afternoons lounging by the pool or days at the beach or creek, you should know what to do to keep both of you safe. To help ensure that your time in the water is nothing but fun, we’ve put together a list of swimming dos and don’ts for both seasoned and new swimmers.
Use a life jacket
If your pup is new to swimming or has had difficulty in the past, they should have a life jacket on anytime they’re near water. Canine life jackets come in a variety of styles and sizes, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one that’s a safe and comfortable fit. If you’re unsure, bring your dog into the store so they can try a few on for size – the staff can help you find one that will allow your pup to enjoy the water safely.
Make sure your dog knows how to exit the pool
Whether your dog will regularly be swimming in your pool or in case they fall in, they should know how to get out. Start by bringing your dog in the pool and showing them the location of the steps or ladder. If they have trouble navigating out of the pool, assist them as they take one step at a time, and encourage them with their favorite Freshpet treat
. Keep practicing until they can comfortably enter and exit the pool using the ladder or steps. Don’t forget to do a quick refresher at the beginning of each swimming season, in case your pup has forgotten.
Clean your dog’s ears after they swim
Water that gets trapped in your dog’s ear while swimming can cause an ear infection. To avoid this, clean out their ears with dog-safe ear solution using a cotton swab or ball after each swim. If you’re unsure how to clean your dog’s ears, ask your vet to give you a demonstration at your next appointment.
Learn canine CPR
In the event of an emergency, CPR can save your dog's life. Pet first aid books often have clear step-by-step instructions, but if you’re looking for a more hands-on training, talk to your veterinarian. They will be able to recommend a training course or teach you the basics during an appointment.
Assume your dog can swim
While most dogs are able to learn how to swim, very few – if any – are born with the ability to do so. In fact, some breeds may have a difficult time learning to swim due to their physique. Take the dachshund for example – their short legs make it difficult to take strong enough strokes to stay afloat. Even if a dog has the body to swim, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll enjoy it, so don’t force it if your dog does not seem interested.
Let them swim unsupervised
Regardless of how strong a swimmer your dog is, accidents can still happen so be sure to keep an eye on them whenever they’re in the water. This is especially true in moving waters, as dogs have difficulty grabbing hold of objects if they do need a rest or get to shore. If your dog will be swimming in moving water, keep them on long lead – think 20 feet or so. This way, you’ll be able to easily pull them in if they get into trouble.
Let them drink salt water
Drinking salt water in excess can be harmful, and potentially deadly, so if your dog will be swimming in salt water take steps to stop them from ingesting it. Mild ingestion of salt water can cause diarrhea, but if consumed in excess it can cause vomiting, dehydration, seizures, and in extreme cases, death. To avoid this, make sure your dog takes swimming breaks every 15 minutes or so where they can relax and drink ample amounts of fresh water.
Swim in cold water
There are only a few breeds suited to swimming in extra-cold water, so if it’s too cold for you, it’s likely too cold for your dog. Extended time in cold water increases your pup’s chance of hypothermia. Hypothermia reduces blood flow, which makes it harder for muscles to work and increases the risk of drowning.
We hope that these tips will help you get ready for a summer full of fun in the sun, but if you have further questions, your veterinarian is there to help. They’ll be able to answer any of your inquiries and provide further resources or advice, if necessary.