When the warmer months come rolling around, many of us want to enjoy some quality time with friends and family near the water. While this a great way to get out and relax, there's another member in your household that may enjoy the water just as much as you: your dog.
Enjoying water activities with your dog can be a great way to provide a fun and engaging environment for all. Before you go ahead and assume that your dog naturally knows how to swim, remember, that's not always the case.
In order to have an enjoyable summer with your furry friend, follow these guidelines for pet water safety to help keep your dog protected around the water.
My Dog Can Swim, Right?
Some people may be under the assumption that canines are natural-born swimmers. While some breeds may have a better advantage due to their size and weight, others struggle while in the water.
Sure, if your dog winds up in the water accidentally, they may begin to dog paddle, but that doesn't mean that they actually can or want to swim - or even stay afloat for a long period of time.
Breeds Known for Swimming
Breeds that are best known for swimming include medium-to-large sized dogs that have webbing between their toes as well as water-resistant coats.
These include most retrievers, labs, and golden breeds. Despite their size, Newfoundlands are great swimmers in addition to the Schipperke, standard poodle, and English and Irish setters.
But, don't forget about the dogs that have the word “water” in their names such as the American Water Spaniel, Irish Water Spaniel, Portuguese Water Dog, and the Spanish Water Dog. These dogs are natural water-loving companions.
Breeds Not Known for Swimming
On the contrary, there are dog breeds that are just not known for swimming. In this category, think of dogs that have small legs and a large chest. Or, those who have a short muzzle and legs. Popular dogs in this category are pugs, Boston terriers, and bulldogs.
Dachshunds and boxers are other breeds that have trouble staying afloat while in the water. Despite all of this, some small dogs can actually be good swimmers, but due to the fact they can get spooked or cold easily, it may not always go as planned.
Regardless of size, know that you can properly handle your dog on the land before attempting to get in the water. It will be harder, as your dog will be heavier and it may be difficult to get them out of the water once they're in.
Teaching Your Dog to Swim
Before turning your furry friend loose into the water, the best thing you can do for their safety and your own is to introduce them to water and help them learn the basics.
- Keep your dog on a leash - While introducing your dog to water, make sure they are secure on a leash. That way, if they need help, you can guide them.
- Pick a good spot - Find a quiet, shallow area of water when taking your dog out the first few times. Don't rush to deep water.
- Don't go too far - Pet Water Safety Tips for an Enjoyable Summer - Start near the edge of the water. If your dog seems to be enjoying it, stay as long as you can. Don't let them go too far as they can tire easily.
- Don't force it - Never force your dog into the water. Allow them to go in on their own. It could scare them in the future if they are forced!
- The dog paddle - When your dog does begin to paddle, assist them in lifting up the hind legs. This will show your dog that it can float.
- Get in - That's right, you need to get in the water with your dog!
Water Safety Tips for Your Dog
Now that you know some of the ways you can help your dog learn to swim, there are some additional pet water safety tips to follow to ensure you will have a good day out on the water.
Pet water safety begins and ends with you. While you may be just as excited to get into the water, your dog is relying on you to keep them safe. We will go over the many ways you can keep your pet safe in different types of swimming areas.
At the Pool
If you are planning on swimming with your dog in your pool or at a friend's house, the first thing you need to do before letting your dog jump in is to check the temperature. Make sure it isn't too hot or cold.
Also, make sure your dog knows how to get in and out of the water. Check for steps or a ramp your dog can use to get in and out of the pool.
And, when it's not time to swim, your dog should not have access to the pool. This means the use of fences or gates and a sturdy pool cover to ensure your pet is safe from disaster.
At the Beach
Knowing that your dog is a capable swimmer is just one of the first things you need to make sure of before taking them to the beach for a dip.
Keep an eye out for riptides and strong currents. This poses a danger to both you and your dog.
Also, for their health, do not allow them to drink ocean water or to eat fish that have washed onto the shore. Both of these things can make your dog ill. Be sure to pack plenty of fresh water and snacks for the day.
At the Lake, River, or Pond
While not as big or strong as a giant body of water, a lake, river, or pond can also pose their own set of issues for your pal.
A flotation device, such as a life jacket, is a must for your dog if they will be out in the water long, or on a boat or dock with you.
Stay away from fishing gear. Anything that has a sharp edge - such as a hook, knife, or barb - can hurt them.
Avoid waters with algae as these can make your dog sick. And, once again, watch out for strong currents.
Additional Pet Water Safety Tips
No matter where you end up taking your dog for a swim, remember these last few pet water safety tips for a great day out on the water!
- Never leave your dog alone in the water
- To help prevent infection, make sure to completely dry your dog's ears.
- Rinse your dog off after swimming in any type of water. Anything from chlorine and salt to algae and minerals can cause irritation to skin and fur.
- If your dog is wearing a flea collar, remove it to preserve active ingredients.
- Learn canine CPR.