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Summer Pet Safety: Safe Swimming

Swimming is great exercise and a fun summer activity for most pets. Swimming and water play is also a great way to keep your dogs cool in the heat of the summer, but make sure you are following these safety tips while in and around pools, lakes, rivers or the ocean this summer:

  • Do not assume your dogs know how to swim! Some people mistakenly believe all dogs are natural swimmers. While most dogs instinctively do some version of a dog paddle if they find themselves in water, that doesn’t automatically mean they are strong swimmers – or can even stay afloat. Certain types of dog breeds, such as pugs, cannot swim at all, due to their anatomy. Do you research and make sure your dog has the capacity to be a swimmer before taking the plunge.
  • Introduce your pet slowly into the water. Many dogs are nervous when they are first introduced to the water, so take it slow to avoid overwhelming them. Work with them, especially if it is their first time, to teach them how to swim and build their confidence in the water. Praise your dog often during his first few swims so he knows that there is nothing to be afraid of. Let them explore the water at their own pace. Never throw them in, or let them swim alone.
  • Bring plenty of fresh water and a bowl with you when you take your dog for a swim. Don’t let your pets drink the pool, lake, river or ocean water. Chlorine and other chemicals can make your pets sick, or irritate your dog’s skin and eyes, just like chlorine can do to humans. Lakes, rivers and ponds contain bacteria that can be extremely harmful to your pets – causing diarrhea or even leading to Leptospira, which can be fatal. Drinking from the ocean can make your dog extremely sick. The salt water will cause your dog to become extremely dehydrated very quickly. If dogs ingest enough salt water, they can suffer serious kidney damage, which can be fatal.
  • Pay close attention to your dogs while they are swimming. Dogs who are nervous in the water will become fatigued more quickly, which can lead to panic and their ability to swim becoming compromised, which can increase the likelihood of drowning.
  • Certain dog breeds with big chests or short legs (such as pugs or bulldogs) will have difficulty swimming, even with practice. They may even sink. Do your research, and if your dog has the anatomy of a non-swimmer, invest in a dog life vest to help them stay afloat and still be able to enjoy the water.
  • Never let your pets swim in a pool with a cover. This is a major safety hazard.
  • Always give your dog a bath after swimming, to wash away the chlorine or any harmful bacteria that may be on their coat from the river, lake or ocean.

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