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Posted: October 12, 2022 at 2:52 pm

Many dogs enjoy swimming, but any body of water can be dangerous to your pet. Here are seven tips for keeping dogs safe around water.

1. Dogs Should Always Wear a Life Jacket Around Water

The best way to keep your dog safe is to invest in a canine life jacket.

Your dog should wear this whenever they are around water, including at the beach, hanging around a pool, on boats, or near lakes. While this might seem unnecessary, a life jacket could be the difference between life and death if your dog gets into trouble.

Not only does a life jacket help to keep your dog afloat,  it makes it much easier to grab your dog if they fall overboard or get stuck. Many canine life jackets also have reflectors and bright colours to make the dog easier to spot.

2. Never Leave a Dog Unattended Near Water

The most important rule for keeping your dog safe around water is to never leave them unattended.

Just like humans, even strong canine swimmers can get into trouble in the water. The only way to keep your pet safe is to watch them at all times, both when they are in the water or nearby.

The water itself isn’t the only danger to your dog. Dead fish or other debris that washed up on the shore can be harmful if eaten. Even dried wild seaweed poses a real danger to your dog at the beach, as it expands in the stomach once eaten.

3. Don’t Assume Your Dog is a Strong Swimmer

There’s a common misconception that all dogs are naturally strong swimmers. This isn’t the case, as many breeds struggle with swimming and get tired very quickly. 

For example, breeds with flat faces and short snouts (known as brachycephalic breeds) find it hard to breathe when swimming. Breeds with a long body and short legs can also find it almost impossible to stay afloat.

Even if your dog is a breed that’s traditionally comfortable in water, such as golden retrievers, Newfoundlands, and Labradors, you shouldn’t assume they can swim for long periods. Not all dogs are comfortable in the water, especially if they haven’t been swimming from a young age.

For this reason, keep swimming sessions short and always pay attention to whether your dog is comfortable and having fun.

4. Avoid Water With Blue-Green Algae

Never let your dog swim in water that contains blue-green algae. Many types of algae are dangerous to dogs, as they produce toxins that affect the liver. Tragically, dogs have been known to die less than 20 minutes after drinking water containing algae.

Not all algae are toxic, but it’s impossible to judge the type without testing equipment. So it’s safest to avoid any lakes and ponds that might contain blue-green algae.

Some of the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Breathing problems
  • Seizures or collapse
  • Confusion
If you suspect your dog has drunk or swum in water containing algae, contact your vet immediately. There’s no cure, but your vet may be able to induce vomiting to get rid of the toxins if it’s treated early.

5. Be Aware of Currents and Riptides

Currents and riptides are two of the biggest dangers at the beach – for both humans and dogs. Watch out for red flags indicating dangerous water and avoid letting your dog near the water if you’re not sure it’s safe.

The same is true for streams and rivers. Currents can quickly carry a dog away, which is another reason why a life jacket is so important.

6. Bring Plenty of Drinking Water

It’s never safe to let your dog drink the water they are swimming in. Instead, bring lots of fresh water for them to drink.

Don’t forget to bring a collapsible water bowl if you’re going to be away from home. These make it much easier for your dog to drink enough water to prevent dehydration.

7. Don’t Force Your Dog to Swim

Swimming can be great exercise for dogs, as it provides a cardiovascular workout without putting strain on the joints.

However, it takes time for any dog to get used to the water. It’s important not to rush or force the process, as this can be dangerous and cause your dog to become fearful of water.

Instead, slowly introduce your dog to water in safe environments. Make sure the water is shallow, calm, and that they are wearing a life jacket. Ensure that the experience is always positive and fun.

 
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