If you own any of the water-loving breeds of dogs, it’s safe to assume that keeping your pooch away from the pool during the summer is about as impossible as herding cats. Of course, there are exceptions to any generalization, but some of the breeds that are notoriously drawn to swimming include Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs (duh!), Standard Poodles, and just about any type of Retriever or Setter. Regardless of your pup’s breed, however, there are certain safety precautions that you should always keep in mind if your dog likes to play in or around bodies of water:
- The first and most important thing that you should always remember when swimming with your pooch is that your own safety comes first. If your dog panics, think carefully before you react. Never put yourself in harm’s way to pull a dog out of the water (especially a dog that is as large as or larger than you are).
- Dogs should know where the exit is located. If you’re swimming in a lake, be sure that he or she is able to get to shore safely (without your help, if necessary). If you’re swimming in a pool, show him where the stairs are. Again, for your own safety, the idea is that you should not have to help your pup out of the water.
- Never assume that your best friend knows how to swim, simply because he or she is a dog. Dogs, just like humans, need the chance to become comfortable in water. Of course, they tend to pick up the art of swimming a lot faster than we do, but they deserve for you to have a little patience, nonetheless. Never toss your dog into the water or force the issue if your pup is obviously nervous. Talk about traumatic!
- Water in your dog’s ears can be a real drag, and it could potentially cause a terrible ear infection. There are a variety of ear cleaning solutions that will clear the ears after swimming and eliminate the risk of bacteria-laden water staying trapped in the ear canals. If you have a swimming day planned, ask your vet about ear cleaning options before you go.
- It’s not always a good choice to swim with a special needs dog. If your dog has uncontrolled epilepsy, weakness or paralysis, or other neurological conditions, please speak with your veterinarian about water safety before you decide to take the plunge.
Accidents happen around water every year, and it’s true that a portion of those accidents involve beloved family pets. Dog swimming safety gear is easy to find online, and if you’re not sure that a certain flotation device is the right choice, ask your vet or someone who has experience in buying such things.
It’s important to have fun, but you should always do it safely. That goes for you AND your pets.