With the hot weather approaching, many of us in Perth County will be spending a lot of time around water and sharing that experience with our dogs. Whether it is by the pool, a lake, or a river, here are some safety tips from Mitchell Veterinary Services to ensure that you and your dog have a happy and safe summer holiday.
- Always supervise your dog around water. While your dog may be a good swimmer, injuries and disorientation can happen easily with lethal results. If you have a pool, make sure it is fenced off so your dog cannot access it when you are not around to watch.
- Teach your dog to swim. Not all dogs are born great swimmers. Gradually introduce your dog to water for short periods of time. Allow them to practice and learn proper doggy-paddle technique! Start in shallow water first. If they really do not want to swim, do not force them. Not all dogs are water dogs.
- Consider your dog’s breed. Some breeds are built better for swimming than others. Short-nosed muscular breeds, such as bull dogs, may have a more difficult time staying afloat due to their body composition. They may also have difficulty keeping their short nose out of the water. Consider always using a life jacket for these breeds to keep them above the water while swimming.
- Teach your dog where the steps out of the pool are. It is important that they always know the easiest way out of the pool. Place a flag or large object at the steps that is easy for them to see while swimming and train them that that is where the exit is. Reward them for using the steps to reinforce it as the exit point.
- Always have a life jacket on your dog while boating. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, if he or she falls out of the boat and injure itself, his or her swimming ability could be severely affected. A life jacket will also allow him or her to swim longer and give you time to go back and find your dog in the water.
- Check water conditions before heading out. If there are reports that there is rough or fast flowing water, it would be best to avoid that area that day.
- Try to prevent your dog from drinking water outside. Pool water contains chlorine and can cause some stomach upset. Water from lakes and rivers can contain intestinal parasites and cause diarrhea. This water can also contain a bacteria called leptospirosis that can cause lethal kidney failure. If you feel it would be difficult to prevent your dog from drinking water outside, speak to us about getting your dog vaccinated against leptospirosis.
- Rinse off your dog. The chlorine in pools can cause skin irritation so it is best to give them a quick rinse when they are done swimming.
- Dry your dog thoroughly after swimming. Use cotton balls to dry out ears, as damp ears can lead to ear infections. Dry off other parts of the body as much as possible, especially around the head and neck area, as these areas are common for skin infections known as “hot spots”. This is especially true in long haired breeds such as Golden Retrievers. Consider keeping your pet’s hair trimmed short if you know they will spend a lot of time in the water.
We hope that by following these tips, you, your family and your dog will have a fun and safe summer!