The sun is shining, it’s a warm summer day and you are lucky enough to be relaxing near a waterway or pool. Your four-legged friend is with you and you decide to dive in. The big question is: can your dog hop in too? If your pet is a regular swimmer, chances are he’ll jump in right along with you. He’ll be more than happy to splash around and cool off a bit. If your fur baby is still a puppy or just a reluctant swimmer, a few easy precautions are all you need for a safe swim.
Do All Dogs Know How to Swim?
The popular and widespread belief that all dogs can swim is firmly rooted amongst animal lovers. We often take it for granted that our pup will instinctively know what to do in water. However, although most canines will indeed be able to move around, the ability to swim for longer periods of time with ease varies greatly from one individual to another.
Be Mindful of Your Pup’s Limits
Moreover, swimming calmly and with control is a learning process. For that reason, it’s a wise idea to always stay alert when your pup goes for a dip. Golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, English setters and Newfoundland dogs are usually known to be skilled swimmers. Others, like bulldogs, can hardly keep their head above water because of their particular physiognomy. While they might enjoy a swim, they get tired very easily and need to be watched closely.
Lastly, no matter the breed, just like humans, some dogs love water and some don’t. Therefore, we should let our dogs choose if they want to jump in or not and never force them to swim. As in all situations, the first experience is often crucial and should be fun and stress-free for your pooch.
Tips for Water Safety
Unfortunately, every year, pets tragically drown. The main reasons are exhaustion and being unable to get out of water. It’s really important not to overestimate the physical capacities of our dog, even if he’s an expert swimmer. The movements in swimming are very different than those used for walking or jogging and your pup can run out of energy faster in water than on dry land.
For the most part, a good swim, is often a pure moment of joy for a dog! However, water can sometimes cause big and small health issues. Luckily, simple habits can help avoid many problems.
Be a Watchful Lifeguard
- Always stay close to your dog, even if he’s an experienced swimmer.
- Test the strength of the current if you are in a river or lake. Strong currents could carry your animal away and exhaust him faster than usual.
- Make sure the water is not too chilly. Most dogs will have trouble with ice-cold water.
- Teach your animal how to get in and come out of the water, so he never ends up stuck and out of breath.
- If you are planning a boat trip, equip your dog with a life jacket design especially for canines.
- Don’t allow your favourite friend to swim in lakes with blue-green algae problems. They can be extremely dangerous and even fatal to your furry companion.
- As much as possible, don’t let your dog drink lake and river water (that’s a tough one, we know!). The presence of bacteria can be harmful to your animal’s digestive system.
- After a good swim, rinse off your dog with clear water and pat him dry to clear up any residue that could irritate the skin. If your dog is prone to dermatitis, you can use a blow dryer to remove humidity for his coat.
- Dog ears are sensitive and an ear infection is never fun! Always dry them thoroughly to avoid problems. Consult your vet if your dog seems to shake his head more than usual or if his ears smell bad. (We are taking foul odour here, but if you’ve ever had a dog with an ear problem, you know what we mean!)
- Make sure your dog’s recall is on point. It could save his life! That basic command can easily be practised with positive reinforcement. Use healthy treats such as Crocx hemp-based cookies for great training sessions.
Yup, the safety list seems endless. But really, it all comes down to creating a safe swimming routine. By doing so, it will give you greater peace of mind and let enjoy worry-free and fun times in the water with your dog. Chances are, he’ll keep an eye on you as well.