Updated on August 16, 2022.
Dog water safety certainly doesn’t have to stop the fun! Here are some water safety tips for smooth sailing on that pool, pond, lake, or beach days!
1. Getting Comfortable in the Water
Before you take your dog for a swim for the first time, don’t assume they can swim because, believe it or not, some dogs don’t know how to. When they get the hang of it, they are likely to do laps quicker than you, but the first step is to make them feel comfortable in the water. Playfully tossing a dog in water can be traumatizing. However, tossing a stick or a ball in water is an easy way to teach them. Broad-chested breeds, like bulldogs, generally have a hard time staying afloat. Flat-faced dogs, like pugs, are prone to breathing problems. This makes them tire out more quickly and can make swimming distressing.
Remain in shallow water and encourage your dog to follow you. Praise him and give the dog treats as he comes out, helping to shape his association with water as a positive and fun way to cool off in the summer heat. Play with one of their toys to show them there’s nothing to be afraid of. Let them explore the water at their own pace.
Train your dog to know how to exit the pool if they fall in. If you need to get out of the water because you’re cold, so does your dog! Dogs can suffer from hypothermia too.
2. Accessorize for fun! (and dog water safety)
There are ramps to assist pets upon entering and exiting the pool. Baby barriers for the pool are another great product as well. Life vests for dogs are readily available and can be helpful when training to swim. PLEASE remember that none of these products is a substitute for attentive supervision.
Doggie life vests also come in handy when boating. Speaking of boating: If your dog falls overboard on a boat, continuously point at him in the water, so he doesn’t lose your attention or position. As dogs can’t wave or yelp for help, it can help them remain as calm as they can, as well as help you keep them on your radar.
Don’t forget to bring an umbrella! Your four-legged friends can burn. There is also sunscreen for dogs available to help prevent this. As it is for human sunbathers, 10am to 3pm is the highest potential for dangerous sun exposure.
3. Scope out the hazards
Be careful of broken shells on paws! The pavement also poses a potential danger. Place your hand or bare foot on the surface of the pavement for 10 seconds. If it gets too hot for you, it is too hot for your pup.
4. Don’t let them drink the water!
If not the pool chemicals, then the harmful organisms that live in ocean waters, lakes, ponds, and rivers pose a dangerous threat to your dog. Concerning the ocean, salt water has an osmotic effect, pulling liquid into your dog’s intestines. This could cause diarrhea and vomiting, which leads to dehydration.
5. Post-swim clean up
Rinse your four-legged friend after their swim! They can ingest many contaminants and bacteria that have collected on their fur when they groom themselves.
A quick rinse also helps relieve any itchiness caused by sand. Also, be sure to clean their ears, as locked-in moisture is a recipe for an ear infection.
For a natural and easy-at-home recipe for canine ear cleaning, see our post full of tips!
Have a pup that hates to swim? There are plenty of fun dog water safety alternatives to swimming, like water guns, kiddie pools, water balloons, and of course, the beloved sprinkler. Have fun!