Summer is on its way, and along with it comes fun in the sun.For many people that means fun in the water; and fun that can be shared with your furry friend. But before you take your four-legged friend with you on a trip to the ocean, a lake, a river, or your favorite pet-friendly swimming hole, take a few precautions.
Make sure your dog can swim.Not all dogs can swim well. Dogs with smashed faces and broad chests are not well designed for swimming. Some athletic dogs that are very muscular, such as greyhounds and whippets, have little body fat so are not buoyant and can also have trouble swimming. And just because a dog belongs to a breed that typically likes the water, it doesn't mean your particular dog likes to swim. If you don't know if your dog can swim, introduce him to the water slowly, on a leash, with you by his side. You can help keep him calm, and help hold his hind end up until he starts using his hind legs as well as his front legs to swim. Putting him in a doggy life jacket can help him feel more comfortable until he gets the hang of swimming. Don't just drop or throw your dog into the water. It can cause panic, which may leave him with a permanent fear of the water, or could even result in drowning.
Make sure the area is safe.If you're planning to swim in a river, check the current and make sure it's not too strong. If it's an area where people also fish, watch out for fish hooks and line. Ensure there are no snakes or fish you wouldn't want to swim with (or roll in). If you plan to swim in the ocean, make sure there are no riptides or eddies that can take your friend too far out in the open sea. Watch out for jellyfish. Keep your eyes open for small sharks that don't pose a threat to humans, but might to your dog. Keep your dog on his leash. If you feel like you have to let him swim loose, make certain he will come when he's called—every time, without fail—so you can call him back if he starts to swim too far out. If you go to a mountain lake or stream, remember that water comes from melting snow: even though the day may be warm and beautiful, that water can be ice cold. Make sure the water is warm enough to keep your furry friend from getting hypothermia.
Be careful around pools.If you have a backyard pool, make sure your dog knows where the stairs are, and how to navigate them. Put a large plant or something else by the stairs so he can always find them. If he falls into the pool and can't locate the stairs, he'll swim to the side and tread water waiting for someone to help him out, which can exhaust him. The edge around the pool can cut or burn delicate paw pads. Keep your dog limited to the area he has to be on to get in and out of the pool. And be very aware of pool covers —if a dog goes underneath a floating pool cover, they can drown.