As the temperature rises and we humans flock to the nearest body of water to cool off, it's only natural to want to bring our four-legged friends along for a splash. But before you let your pooch paddle, it’s important to ensure they’re well-versed in the doggy paddle! Here’s your go-to guide for a safe and paw-some summer swimming session with your best fur-end.
Know Your Dog's Swim Level
Not all dogs are natural swimmers, so it's important to gauge your dog's abilities and confidence levels before they go making a splash. Breeds with short legs and flat faces often struggle more in the water. If your dog is a swimming newbie, introduce them to water gradually and consider a doggy life jacket for that extra buoyancy boost.
Choose the Right Environment
When it comes to swimming spots, not all waters are created equal. Avoid strong currents, deep water for new swimmers, and areas with heavy boat traffic. Opt for calm, clean waters where you can easily assist your dog if they get tired or scared. Remember, the best doggy swim holes are those without surprises!
Hydration and Shade Are a Must
Just because they’re in water doesn't mean they can't get dehydrated. Bring fresh water for your dog to drink—pool or sea water isn't a dog-friendly beverage. And when they’re done doggy paddling, make sure there’s a shady spot for them to cool down and take a well-deserved nap.
Sun Protection, Seriously!
Who knew dogs could get sunburned? Well, they can, especially those with short fur and light skin. Slather on some pet-safe sunscreen on your dog’s nose and ears 30 minutes before swim time. Repeat after they've had a dip or a shake-off—whichever comes first.
Teach Proper Pool Etiquette
If you're more of a pool person, make sure Fido knows where the stairs or ramp are. Practising how to get in and out of the pool safely can prevent panic when they can’t touch the bottom. And always—no exceptions—supervise your pet around the pool.
Aftercare Is Important
After a good swim, rinse your dog off to remove chlorine, salt, or lake muck. Dry their ears thoroughly to prevent infections, and give their coat a good brush to avoid any unwanted matting or tangles.
Never 'Throw' Your Dog into the Water
Throwing your dog into the water can be traumatic and dangerous. Always let your dog enter the water at their own pace. Encouragement and treats can go a long way—force and fear do not.
Have Emergency Plans
Be prepared for the unexpected. Know basic pet first aid and CPR (Refer to below for How to Perform CPR on Pets) . Keep an emergency kit handy with towels, a first aid kit, and emergency numbers, including the nearest vet.
Make water time fun with floating toys and engaging water games. Remember to keep sessions short and sweet; dogs can tire quickly in the water even if they're having a blast.
Observe and Learn
Watch for signs of tiredness or distress. Heavy panting, a low tail, or trying to climb on you could mean your dog is not having fun anymore. Time to call it a day and head back to dry land.
Swimming with your dog can be a fun and refreshing way to spend a summer day. It’s a great way for both of you to stay active, cool, and bond. With these safety tips in mind, grab that leash (and life jacket) and dive into some unforgettable memories with your paddling pooch!
Remember, every dog has its own preference for summer fun, and for some, that may be a nap in the shade rather than a swim. And that’s okay! The best summer activity is one that keeps tails wagging and spirits high. Happy swimming!