It’s easy to think dogs are natural-born swimmers, but this isn’t always the case. Even if your pooch absolutely loves splashing about, there are still everyday risks to be aware of. 40% of Australia’s pet owners have dogs, and with summer right around the corner taking your dog for a swim to cool off will be on many people’s minds. So before you take your best mate for a paddle, keep in mind these five water safety tips.
1. Learn canine CPR
CPR stands for ‘cardiopulmonary resuscitation’. It’s a life-saving procedure used to help dogs that have stopped breathing or have no heartbeat. If this is happening to your dog, it’s crucial that you act quickly before their body shuts down.
Like with humans, CPR for your dog involves a combination of chest compressions and artificial respiration. It’s important to properly learn how to administer CPR, as doing it wrong can cause physical complications and fatal damage. There are slight differences in the procedure for small and large dogs, so talk to your vet or a pet professional about the appropriate method for your dog.
2. Gauge your pooch’s swimming ability
Until you introduce a dog to water, there’s no sure-fire way to gauge their swimming ability. However, there are some simple ways to make their first (and every) experience a safe one.
Firstly, choose a quiet and shallow spot of water, remembering to keep your dog on a leash while learning. To make them feel comfortable, get into the water with them. Start at the edge and stay in as long as they feel happy. When your dog begins to paddle with their front legs, gently lift their hind legs to show them how to float. If you can, try to get them used to swimming while they’re young.
3. Safety at the beach, lake and pool
When it comes to water safety, there are distinct differences between beaches, lakes, and pools. If your dog is a beach-goer, watch out for strong currents and rips. To keep hydrated, ensure you bring along fresh water, as ocean water will make your dog sick.
At home, put a fence around your pool when it isn’t time to swim, and keep a cover over it when you’re not using it. Teach your dog how to get in and out, and make sure to check the water temperature before letting them splash about. Only a few breeds can cope with really cold water. When you’re swimming in a lake, steer clear of patches with blue-green algae. And like with the beach, check the strength of the current.
4. Boat safety for dogs
Before taking your first mate on board, it’s best to be prepared for the journey. First and foremost, make sure your dog wears a lifejacket at all times. They might be a strong swimmer, but the weather and water conditions can be unpredictable. You should also have a first-aid kit on board filled with dog-specific treatments.
To get your pooch used to boating, let them check out the vessel before going on the water – and make their first voyage a short one. Ensure you’re up to date with local laws and regulations for dogs on boats, keep them hydrated while they’re on board, and don’t forget about sun protection – it can get really hot out there!
5. Washing your dog down
If moisture is trapped inside your dog’s ear canals, it can lead to infection. So remember to towel-dry their ears after every dip. You can even use natural ear wipes to make the job easier.
To avoid the uncomfortable sensation of itching skin, make sure to wash your dog down with fresh water after their swim. Using good quality shampoo will help protect their coat and dislodge any rogue clumps of sand or dirt hiding under their fur.
Ready to dive in?
Swimming with your pooch is a lot of fun. But to make the experience as safe as possible, just follow these tips. And remember – never force your dog to swim if they don’t want to.
About the Author:
Liz Walden has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Petsecure Pet Insurance (www.petsecure.com.au) to Australian pet lovers. She is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by by those who work to provide a better life for all animals. Liz is also passionate about education that supports responsible pet ownership, and strongly believes that all pets deserve the very best care.