Swimming can be a great way to exercise for your dog, just like it can be for people. It is low impact on joints, and can be beneficial for weight loss, building muscle tone, and keeping patients with arthritis active. It's also a wonderful way to keep cool, and spend time together. Please keep in mind, that the swimming pool can also pose several risks to your buddy, some of which are life threatening. With a few simple precautions, you can make this a fun and safe haven for your canine companion.
Many dogs love to swim, and several breeds of dogs are genetically designed to do this. However, it is important to keep in mind that many breeds of dogs are not good at swimming, and that their respiratory conformation can predispose them to drowning. Dogs that are Brachycephalic-have short, pushed in noses, are not well designed for aquatic adventures, and you may be putting them in serious danger by trying to make them swim. These includes, but are not limited to Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus. Dogs with short legs such as Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Pomeranians, Papillons, and Basset hounds are also not good in the water. Also, some dogs are afraid of the water; even in dog breeds that are associated with water sports. If they are fearful, they can be predisposed to injury. The art of swimming may not come naturally to your pet, even if he or she is a breed commonly associated with water. Dog breeds that love to swim include; but are not limited to Labrador Retrievers, Spanish Water Dog, Irish Water Spaniel, Newfoundland, Irish Setter, English Setter, Golden Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, American Water Spaniel, and Schipperke.
If you want your dog to swim, introduce the idea slowly. Start at the shallow end of the pool, with your canine by your side. You can gently lead him or her in with a leash. You can also give a few tasty treats to motivate your buddy to enter the water. If your dog is good at fetching, a ball or other toy can be a great source of motivation. Slowly bring your dog into the pool enough that he or she has to paddle to stay afloat. You may need to have your hands under his or her belly initially for support. If your dog is afraid of the water, starting out on a floating raft may be less intimidating. Life jackets are available for dogs. They can be used for swimming, and are a great safety item if you take your dog boating. Paws aboard www.pawsaboard.com has a wide variety of life jackets, and also sells steps to assist your buddy with getting in and out of the pool. Never just throw your pet into the pool. This can trigger fear, and can easily lead to drowning. If your dog has started to drown, take him or her to your veterinarian for immediate care.
Besides drowning, there can be other problems associated with swimming. Frequent swimming can lead to skin problems such as allergies, dry skin, and infections. Ear infections are also a common water related malady. If your dog runs circles around the pool, or walks on the stairs a lot, he or she can have foot pad wounds, or bleed at the nail tips. Water magnifies heat intensity, and dogs do not sweat to get rid of heat like people do. It is easy for them to get overheated, even when they are in the water. Sunburns are also a concern for canines, especially in those with a light of light colored skin and fur. Digestive upset after swimming can also occur.
To make your pet's swimming experience fun and safe, here are a few things to keep in mind. Make sure your dog is supervised when he or she is swimming. If your canine has difficulties, you may have to jump into the pool to rescue your buddy. Install a fence around your pool, and consider having a pool cover. These not only help to prevent your pet or small children from accidentally falling into the pool; but a pool cover also helps to keep your pool cleaner, and is an energy efficient way to help maintain the temperature. Watch out for signs of overheating and exhaustion. Always rinse your pet off after a swim. This will help to remove the pool chemicals, and make skin dryness, allergies, and infection less likely. Clean out your dogs ears, or at a minimum apply ear cleaner to the ears to dry out any remaining moisture. This is especially important in dogs with long floppy ears. This will help to reduce ear infections. And examine at your dogs nails and foot pats after a swim, to make sure there are no signs of wounds or wear from contact with the cement. A non-toxic sunblock, such as children's Bullfrog can be used on your dogs nose to help prevent sunburn. Try to plan swim sessions at least 2 hours after eating to reduce the chances of digestive upset. I hope these tips help you have fun with your canine companion.