Natural Pet

Published on August 2nd, 2014 | by Sandra Murphy

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Dog Gone Swimming Safety Tips

First, check with community pools if they allow dogs for special sessions. Many offer canine swims as fundraisers during off-season periods. Make sure the pet is sociable and wears a life jacket.

The best swimmers include breeds used in water rescue or retrieval, such as the Newfoundland, Labrador retriever, Portuguese water dog, poodle and spaniel, as opposed to those with shorter snouts and airways. The stocky bodies and shorter legs of Scotties and dachshunds are also less conducive to water play.

Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of Veterinary Services at Petplan Pet Insurance, in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, lists three key safety tips: Be alert for signs of tiredness, like trouble staying afloat or struggling to catch their breath; watch for vomiting, diarrhea or fever due to harmful bacteria in some waterways; and don’t let dogs drink from the ocean. Ingested salt water can unbalance electrolytes and lead to dehydration, brain damage, kidney failure and even death.

Pet expert Eileen Proctor recommends dabbing sunscreen on pet noses and ears before swimming and putting on the dog’s life jacket before going into, on or near the water. Always ensure that dogs are well-trained to come when called, leave found items and to take a break to rehydrate and rest.

Supervise swimming dogs closely and make sure they aren’t drinking the water. If a dog hesitates to enter the water, leave his non-retractable leash on to reassure him he has assistance if needed, and stay in the pool with him. Establish a cue for entering and leaving the pool and use it before the dog overtires. Don’t allow a pet to climb the pool’s ladder to exit because a paw could slip, causing injury or panic.

When boating, pull into a secluded area with no running propellers, active paddling or underwater snags, and keep the pet on a non-retractable lead or trained to swim close by. Rinse fur immediately after every swim to remove chlorine, bacteria, dirt or salt, and then dry the dog’s inner and outer ears.

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About the Author

Sandra Murphy is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings.


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