Summer time is pool time for most dogs. They love nothing more than playing in the water, but as a concerned parent it is your responsibility to be knowledgeable about how to keep your animals safe when letting them indulge in some fun, summer horseplay in the swimming pool.
Here’s a handy primer that explains many aspects of proper pool safety when letting your dog go swimming:
# 1: MAKE SURE YOUR DOG KNOWS HOW TO SWIM
It’s a common misconception that all dogs can swim. A lot of dog-owners throw their pet into the deep end, thinking it is no big deal because he/she instinctively knows how to stay afloat.
All dogs are not made equal, and while some are naturally amphibious, others simply cannot do it.
Natural Swimmers: For example, Labrador Retrievers, Water Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, English Setters, and the water-loving Newfoundland. They all have strong limbs, but the ability may also be genetic because many of them were bred specifically to retrieve waterfowl or for water rescue.
Non-Swimmers: Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Corgis, Shih Tzus and Basset Hounds are some examples. Their short legs simply don’t have enough thrust to help them gain traction in water. Breeds with short faces, such as the Pug, also have a hard time swimming since they fatigue easily. You’d imagine that a long-legged Boxer would be a champion swimmer, but this breed too has the flatter face and shorter muzzle, which means keeping head and nose above water is a problem.
The Chihuahua and the Maltese prove to be good swimmers sometimes, but they become easily chilled or frightened in water, which can increase the risk of drowning.
# 2: PERSONALITIES HAVE AN IMPACT ON FONDNESS FOR WATER
You can teach many dogs how to swim, even if they are not natural swimmers. A lot of this has to do with the dog’s individual personality. Obedience training is very useful in keeping a dog safe in water. For example, teaching the dog to respond to a “come” command when he/she is playing water.
# 3: TEACH YOUR DOG HOW TO GET OUT OF THE POOL
Make sure your dog knows how to get out of the pool. Some will stay in the water even when they are completely exhausted because the escape route has not been clearly chalked out and taught to them.
# 4: BUY A LIFE JACKET
No matter how good a swimmer your dog is, it’s a good idea to keep him/her in a life jacket when playing in the pool. Dogs have no sense of “enough” when they’re having fun, and they can endanger themselves from exhaustion and risk drowning when you are not looking.
# 5: REMOVE FLEA COLLAR
Water can wash off active ingredients in flea collars, so if your dog wears one, remember to take it off before a swim.
# 6: DON’T ALLOW DRINKING FROM THE POOL
Drinking chlorinated water may cause gastrointestinal irritation. Dogs who love to gulp water as they paddle should be discouraged, though pool-strength chlorine shouldn’t be doing any serious harm.
# 7: RINSE OFF WELL AFTER A SWIM
Dogs need a good wash down, no matter what kind of water they have been in. Seawater minerals, salt, chlorine, algae, and pollution can all irritate or damage their skin and fur.
# 8: DRY OFF EARS AFTER A SWIM
Moisture in a dog’s ear can encourage ear infections, so make sure to clean ears thoroughly after your dog has played in the pool.
# 9: PAW PADS NEED PROTECTION
After spending time in the pool, the paw pads become softer and more susceptible to getting burnt on hot poolside surface during summer.
# 10: LEARN CANINE CPR
Mouth-to-nose resuscitation and chest compressions could save a dog’s life in an emergency.
# 11: NEVER LEAVE DOGS ALONE IN THE POOL
Dogs don’t know their limits. And when they reach it, they often don’t know how to save themselves.