Monday, June 8, 2009

Swimming With Your Dog- Summer Water Pet Safety Tips

Dogs are born with instincts like sniffing, barking, retrieving & begging but remember not all dogs know how to dog paddle, dive, swim or like the water. So, before you cool down and make a splash with your dog in the pool here are some water safety tips to help introduce your dog to the water.

Avoid excessive noise- When teaching your dog how to swim or introducing your dog to the water be sure to take them to an area that’s not so crazy and hectic. Like children, dogs can become frightened and confused if there’s a lot of noise and activity around them when they are learning to swim. The objective is to keep them calm and focused on the swimming lesson. 

Use encouragement- When teaching your dog to swim keep your voice upbeat and positive. Using treats and toys to encourage & coax your dog into entering the water works wonders. But remember to be patient, some dogs may not be easily persuaded by a delicious treat.

Never throw them in- Your dog is not a toss salad. So never toss your dog into the water, especially if your dog is just learning to swim. Never force your dog into the water because it will only make your dog more hesitant or frightened. So instead be patient, slowly put them in the water and get their paws used to it. Start your dog off with little puppy paddles and soon he or she will be making a big splash.

Support their weight until they paddle- If you are teaching a puppy or dog beginner how to swim make sure they are wearing a flotation device. A flotation device provides your dog with an extra level or security and safety just incase they begin to panic in the water. Even the most accomplished doggy swimmers can struggle and panic in the water. Purchasing a life vest with a convenient sturdy handle will allow you to retrieve or assist your dog in the water with ease. Even if the dog is wearing a life vest, support its midsection and hindquarters in the water until they start paddling and feel comfortable.

Show them the Exit Strategy-Getting a dog in the pool is only half the battle. It is important that your dog is shown where the steps are in the pool so they can easily get out. All pools should have a scamper ramp for an easy pool exit.

Learn CPR- It is important to always be prepared for anything, so stay up on first aid techniques and pet CPR.

Lifeguard on Duty-
Supervise! - nothing replaces the safety of full adult supervision. Never allow your dog in an pool or favorite watering hole unattended. Even in the water, dogs can wander off into the deep end after their friend or be carried by the waves. Dogs that swim naturally and well can jump in the ocean and keep swimming until they’re lost. So, like children it is important to keep an eye on their every stroke & paddle so they are not wandering to far in the water.

Pet Proof your Pool-Make sure that when the pool is not in use that the cover or netting is firmly in place so your dog does not slip under. If you do have a pool make sure it is fenced and pet proof since pets love to retrieve buoyant objects and can often squeeze through gaps and tiny spaces. Having a pool gate that automatically closes and latches is important. An alarm system that alerts you when the unsupervised pool area has been compromised adds another level of defense. You can even purchase a alarm system that attaches to your dogs collars and alerts you when he or she is submerged in the water.

Giving your puppy or dog swimming lessons in a kiddie pool is great to help them get use to the water. Kiddie pools are a good alternative for senior dogs so they to can splash and wade in the summer sun. For those of you pet owners with kiddie pools make sure you keep the pool clean to prevent mosquito infestations and toxic algae growth.

Just remember that your dog views a pool, stream and the ocean as a larger then life water bowl to quench their thirst. Salt water and Dogs often ingest water they are swimming so always verify that the water is safe and look out for signs that warn against swimming in this area. Make sure that the pond or lake you & your dog is swimming or wading in is not contaminated. Some ponds and lakes may contain water-borne parasites and infection that are harmful to you and your dog’s health. Please keep in mind that while you are enjoying a day at pond or lake with your dog, that to some animals and insects this is their home. So, make sure to keep your eyes out for predators or insects that may not greet you and Fido with a warm welcome. Some of these insects or predators will attack if threatened or provoked. If you are not 100% certain that the water is safe go with your gut instinct so you and your dog are not at risk.

Once you and your dog have taken a dip don’t forget to dry off or in your dogs case hose down. Rinse your dogs lush locks with clean, fresh water and a hypoallergenic shampoo to rid their fur of excess salt or chlorine. This is very important since dogs have sensitive coats and can develop skin problems very easily. Did you know that moisture left in your dogs ear after swimming and bathing can lead to ear infections. Don’t forget your dog will be wet behind and inside the ears so be sure to apply a ear cleaning solution and make sure ears are completely dry.

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