Safe Swimming Tips
There's nothing like slipping on a pair of sandals on a warm day and heading to the beach with your dog. Here are some tips on how you can have safe fun with your dog at the dog beach...
Some dog breeds are made for swimming and some even have webbed feet, but not all dogs take to the water naturally. Dogs with certain conditions, such as obesity and heart disease, may not be able to handle the physical demands of swimming.
For dogs with orthopedic conditions, on the other hand, swimming can be excellent physical therapy. In any case, owners should introduce their dogs to the water slowly and be aware of your pets swimming abilities.
Kiddie pools, and even sprinklers, can be a safer method of water play for older dogs or breeds that do not swim well. Simply wading or splashing provides cool fun but even these should be supervised. Remember to keep kiddie pools clean to prevent mosquito and toxic algae growth.
Many lakes and rivers may not be safe for swimming. There may be strong currents or deep drop-offs, not to mention broken glass and shell fragments, which can lacerate paw pads. Obviously if it's not safe for people to swim there, it's not safe for dogs either. Dogs should never be pushed off a boat or dock into the water, or left unattended in a pool or lake.
- Bring fresh water and a bowl - Do your best to prevent your dog from drinking questionable water. Lake water can be full off bacteria and protozoa that can lead to gastrointestinal upset. You might consider vaccinating your dog for Leptospirosis if you find it's difficult to stop your dog from drinking water from lakes and streams
- Use life jackets - flotation device should be used on your dog when swimming or boating. Even excellent swimmers can have problems.
- Teach your dog to come on command - even in water. This may prevent him from drifting too far. Don't allow your dog to become overly tired in the water. Be a good coach, notice when your dog needs to take a break or quit. Remember that older dogs do not have the agility and endurance they once had.
- Check paw pads - If your dog spends a lot of time on the rocks of the beach or beachcombing, check your dog's feet periodically for cuts or scrapes, and for irritation from hot sand.
- After a swim - Some water is irritating to skin, coats, and ears. No matter where your dog has been swimming, it's a good idea to rinse their coats off with clean water. When possible, insides of ears should be cleaned with ear cleaning solution.