Dr. Julie Damron

3 minutes reading time (579 words)

Water sport safety for your canine companion

There are many water activities that you can enjoy with your canine buddy.  Water sports are a great way for your pet to exercise and beat the heat.  Here are a few helpful tips to ensure the safety of your cherished companion this summer.

Supervise your dog whenever he or she is in the water.

Hundreds of dogs drown every year, even in their own pools.  A pool cover or fence will prevent your canine friend from swimming when you are not there, and will also help to prevent Fido from accidentally falling into the pool.  Floating ramps and steps to ease getting in and out of the water are available that can be used on boats or swimming pools.  They can be purchased for $65-125.

Make sure Fido can swim.

You can teach your dog to swim starting at 3-4 months of age.  Start by using a child's wading pool, and gradually work your way up.  Not all dogs are natural swimmers, and some are too fearful.  Dogs under a year of age, or over the age of seven, are especially prone to hypothermia and drowning.  Big boned dogs such as Boxers and Bulldogs are not as agile in the water, and can't swim for long periods of time or long distance.

Do not let your canine companion swim in very cold water.

A good rule to use for jugding the water temperature is that if it's too cold for you to swim in it, it's too cold for your buddy.  Exertion in very cold conditions will lead to quicker exhaustion and hypothermia.  Watch out for signs of problems such as panting, dark or pale gum color, dilated pupils, decreased heart rate (<60 bpm), shivering, cold extremities, low body temperature, and decreased mental alertness.

Always have a life jacket for your companion when boating or swimming in open water.

They can be purchased for $20-60.  A life jacket can mean the difference between life and death for your pet.  Your dog can easily get carried away in a rapid current.  Ocean tides can also be unexpectedly strong. Your dog may unexpectedly jump out of a boat, canoe, or kayak.  Watch out for other hazards such as areas of poor footing, sharp objects, seaweed your pet can get tangled in, and jellyfish.  www.ruffwear.com has a wide variety of life jackets, boots, and other protective gear.

Provide fresh water for your canine to drink.

Swimming pools contain chlorine and other chemicals.  Ponds and lakes can have harmful toxins, parasites, and algae.  Ocean water is salty.  Drinking from these water sources can lead to intestinal upset, organ damage, and even death.  It is also important to bath your dog after water activities to remove salt, chemicals, and other harmful debris.  Clean your pet's ears as well to prevent infection.

Keep your pet protected from the sun.

Stay in shaded areas as much as possible.  Dogs can get sunburned just like people can.  This is especially true for animals that have very little fur, or have a lot of white on their faces.  Use sunblock, especially on noses and areas that are not well covered with hair.  Children's bullfrog sunblock is non-toxic and safe for use on animals.  Pets can also get heat stroke if they are in the direct sun for too long.  Also, remember to not let your dog walk on surfaces that are too hot, to prevent blistered paws.

I wish all of you a happy and safe summer.

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Wednesday, 22 May 2019