Splish-Splash for Spot: Understanding Water Safety for Dogs

Water safety for dogs is important when swimming with dogsFor many of us, swimming is one of the best ways to stay in shape, cool off, and socialize with friends. For those of us with canine companions, a day on the water offers much of the same benefits – but with a catch!

Swimming is as natural to dogs as it is to humans, which is to say that not every pup is inclined to the water. Learn more about water safety for dogs by reviewing these tips from the friendly team at Berkeley Veterinary Center.

Grab the Essentials

Here are some of the basics you’ll need for a day of swimming:

  • Life jacket that’s properly fitted for your dog
  • Pet formulated sunscreen (pay close attention to the ears and nose)
  • Collapsible water bowl and lots of water and snacks
  • Umbrellas or pop-up shades
  • Towels for drying off
  • Dog booties to protect the paws from sand or other hot surfaces
  • Toys suitable for water

Is Your Dog Really Ready to Swim?

Despite what people think, not every dog is a natural swimmer, and, unfortunately, there are many accidental drownings among our animal friends each year. Some dogs, such as brachycephalic or flat-faced breeds, simply aren’t suited to swimming. Their shortened airways make breathing more laborious, and therefore, swimming is very difficult. Older pets and those with illnesses are also at greater risk.

For the dog who’s willing and able to swim, they should still be introduced to the water gradually, beginning in a pool or other contained area. Use the following steps as a guide:

  • Put on your pet’s life preserver.
  • Start in a shallow area, and get them to splash and paddle around you.
  • Once they’re comfortable, gradually work your way toward the deeper end.
  • Stay in the water with your dog, and continue to move into deeper water, then back to shallow.
  • Show your pet where the exit is, whether it’s a step or a dog ramp.
  • Offer treats or toys to entice your dog to paddle toward the exit.
  • You can eventually graduate to natural bodies of water, but stay close to your pet and watch them carefully. A life preserver should be worn at all times, even on the boat.
  • Don’t let your dog swim in waves or choppy water.

Additional Tips: Water Safety for Dogs

Heat awareness is another important component of swimming with your dog. Because there may be little shade available, be sure to provide an umbrella or pop-up shade. Bring plenty of water for hydration, and go inside to cool off.  

If your dog seems fatigued, make sure to get them out of the water. Even energetic, water-loving pets can drown when they become tired.

Want more tips on water safety for dogs? Please call us! We’re always happy to hear from you!

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