Water Safety – All Dogs Can Swim… Right?
Life Jacket Safety
If you take your dog around a large body of water and/or in a boat, it’s best to err on the side of caution and put him in a life jacket. A common misconception many Guardians make is assuming that all dogs can swim — that’s not the case.
Other reasons for wearing a lifejacket:
- Cold water can result in hypothermia, causing muscles to fatigue or cramp
- Fast currents can be stronger than your dog’s ability to swim out of them
- The distance to shore may be further away than your dog can swim
- Your dog may become disoriented and not swim towards shore
- A dog that jumps from (or is thrown from) a boat at high speed can be injured when hitting the water
When choosing a lifejacket for your dog, make sure it fits securely. If your dog has never worn a lifejacket, make sure you give him time to get acquainted with it and practice swimming while wearing it before actually getting on the boat.
Water Safety – Toys
When playing with your pet, in and out of the water, it’s important to use water and fetch safe toys. While branches and sticks are common items for a dog to fetch around water, they can pose some major safety concerns. Tragedy can strike in an instant if the stick lands in sand or grass sticking upwards and your dog is going full tilt to fetch it. Also, your dog could be seriously injured if he dives into the water and lands on the stick.
The safe alternative to sticks is a ball — just make sure it is large enough so your dog can’t swallow or choke on it. Choose toys that are safe and durable, designed to float, easy to throw and are visible to you and your pet in the water. And for those dogs that love sticks, there are even buoyant rubber toys shaped like sticks!
After Swim Care
Dogs that swim can be prone to “swimmer’s ear” — ear infections caused by leaving the ears wet after swimming. Prevention is simple: each time your dog swims, ensure you clean his ears afterwards using an ear cleaner specifically formulated for dogs, and dry them thoroughly.
You also need to care for his skin and coat, especially if he swims in salt water or chemically treated water such as in swimming pools. Even most “fresh water” rivers and lakes often contain chemicals, bacteria or other organisms that can cause itchiness, redness and skin irritation. Ensure you rinse your dog with clean fresh water after swimming, and bathe him with a soothing shampoo that is pH balanced for a dog (not human shampoo).