8 Swimming Safety Tips for Dogs this Summer

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On a hot summer day, nothing beats the heat like hopping in the pool, splashing around the lake, or relaxing in the surf. If you’re close to a body of water (any body of water) you’re probably heading there when the temperature peaks.

Not surprisingly, your pets probably love cooling off in the water too. Most dogs love swimming and jumping around in the waves…and it’s one of the most adorable things ever.

But before you hit the water with your pooch, keep these 8 swimming safety tips for dogs in mind:

1. Introduce dogs slowly to water and make them feel comfortable.

Some pet owners assume all dog breeds are natural born swimmers, but like people, some dogs are more comfortable in the water than others.

The last thing you want to do is force your dog into water. Not only could this traumatize them, but they could panic and injure themselves or drown. However, you can gradually ease your dog’s fears and hesitation by slowly getting them used to water, like you’d do for a child.

First, introduce your dog to the shallow end/steps of a pool or hang close to shore. Let them sniff around the water and get used to it first. Turn it into a game and toss a ball or stick to them in the water. As your dog feels more comfortable, gradually move further away from the shallow end or the shore. If your dog is still fearful and doesn’t want to go into the water, don’t force them.

If you’d like to, and resources allow, you can work with a professional dog trainer. The trainer can introduce other techniques to help a skittish dog feel more comfortable and at ease in the water.

2. Teach dogs how to get out of a pool.

Whether your dog is a swimmer or not, it’s vital that they learn how to get out of your pool (if you have one). If your dog ever accidentally falls in, he should know how to safely get to the steps and get out. This is also critical if your dog is a swimmer.

Using a long leash attached to his collar, take your dog down the steps and gently place him in the shallow end of the pool. If he needs help going up and down the steps, use the leash to guide him, but try to let him do it on his own. Once he feels confident in the shallow end, place him in other parts of the pool until he gets the hang of swimming to the steps to exit the pool.

3. Use safety fencing and gates to enclose swimming pools or ponds.

To prevent dogs from falling into the pool or a pond, consider installing safety fencing around the perimeter of the water. Make sure gates are securely closed and locked. Just like children, it’s easy for sneaky dogs to push open gates with their paws and get inside the pool/pond area when no one is around to supervise.

4. Use pet life vests when boating or rafting.

If you love to boat or raft during the summer months and bring your dog along, make sure he wears a life vest made specifically for dogs. Not only will the life vest keep him afloat if he accidentally falls in or jumps into the water, but a brightly colored vest also allows you to easily spot him and safely rescue him.

5. Supervise your dog at all times around a body of water.

Things can happen quickly around a lake, pool or in the ocean, so don’t let dogs wander too far away and keep them close by your side when swimming together.

Like humans, dogs can suffer from hypothermia in cold water. When swimming with your dog, if you start to get cold, then it’s probably time for your pet to get out of the water too. Always keep a close eye on your dog for signs of distress, especially in icy cold water.

6. Think twice before taking your dog to the beach.

Between fast, dangerous currents and parasites found in sand, the beach isn’t the most ideal place to take dogs. If you do decide to take your dog to a public beach, use extreme caution and always supervise them. Never let dogs swim in strong currents, and keep them close to the shore where you can see them.

7. Clean your dog’s ears after swimming.

Dogs’ ears can be very sensitive, particularly if they’ve been swimming all day. When they shake and dry off, try to quickly clean and dry your dog’s outer ear/flap. Wipe off any excess water, debris, sand, etc., with a clean towel or cotton pad. Dogs are prone to yeast infections in and around the ears so make sure their ears don’t become irritated or inflamed. If you notice unusual redness or a foul odor coming from the ears, take your dog to the vet to get it checked out.

8. Take extra care with senior dogs.

Older dogs can suffer from poor vision, hearing loss, and arthritis that makes swimming difficult for them. If a senior dog has hip or leg issues, getting in and out of a swimming pool could be painful on their joints. Always check with your vet to see if a senior dog is healthy enough to swim.

Despite taking safety precautions, accidents can still happen in water. If your dog becomes accidentally injured while swimming, immediately take him to your vet or an emergency pet hospital/clinic.

No one likes to think of their pet getting sick, but it unfortunately happens. Get your pet the treatment and care they deserve with a Pets Best pet insurance plan and get up to 90% of veterinary bills covered. And, as a Farmers customer you’ll save 5%.

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