Playing with Dogs Safely Around Water
When we first took our rescued Miniature Dachshund, Hershey, with us to a small fishing lake near our home, we had no idea that she couldn't swim well. It became clear as soon as she swam out into about four feet of water, looked back at us, then rolled over and sank. My husband rescued her, ruining a new pair of athletic shoes in the process, but it was a scary few moments. After that evening, Hershey became known by park rangers as “the dog in the pink life jacket." But that lifejacket was more than a fashion statement — it saved her more than once when she fell off our boat. The jacket fit snugly with straps that went under her chest and belly and had a handle on top, allowing us to scoop her up quickly if she fell in the water.
A life jacket isn't the only important factor – here are some other tips for keeping your dog safe around the water this summer.
Know the rules: Be a responsible pet parent. Make sure you know whether or not your dog is allowed at the park or beach. Some have specific time restrictions and some do not allow dogs at all.
Keep your pup close: Make sure your dog stays on a leash at first until she becomes familiar with the water. Once she is confident and you feel it is safe, you can allow her to play safely.
Play alongside your pet in the water: If you want to let your dog romp in the low waves, make sure you are always present and keeping a watchful eye. Better yet, get in with your pet and enjoy the fun.
Know your surroundings: If there are other dogs or lots of children nearby swimming and splashing, it's best to keep your pup leashed. Even the most socialized dogs can become fearful around lots of unfamiliar activity and loud noises.
Don't allow your dog to drink the water: Saltwater can cause diarrhea and too much of it can be deadly. Even fresh water can introduce parasites and illness to your dog.
Watch out for harmful critters: Some water snakes, such as water moccasins, are poisonous and other reptiles and fish can leave nasty bites.
Don't get trapped: Many people don't realize that trapping is allowed during hunting season in some local and state parks. While traps should not be set during the off season (summer), be aware that there may be a trap left over, especially if you're in sparsely populated areas. These traps are typically set near the water line or under rocks or bushes.
Prepare the pool: Make sure there is a fence near your pool so your dog doesn't get in while you're not around. While pool water containing chlorine is relatively safe for dogs to swim in, overexposure is not recommended and may cause red eyes and itchy skin. Always make sure you store chlorine and other pool chemicals out of your pet's reach.
No throwing allowed: Never force your dog into or throw him into the water. This will only create panic and fear.
Learn canine CPR: CPR for humans and dogs and cats is similar, but the compression method may vary, depending on the size of the animal. Non-profit organizations that teach CPR for humans sometimes offer pet CPR. Humane societies and non-profits sometimes also offer the class as a way to raise funds for the organization.
Have a post-swim routine: Rinse your furry friend as soon as possible when she gets out of the water. This removes dirt and irritants from her skin. Dry your dog completely, including the ears to prevent infection
Heed your parasite application: Some flea and tick preventatives instruct you not to allow your dog to get wet for 24–72 hours after application. Be mindful of this when planning a trip to the water.
Do you have a photo of your dog in a life jacket? We'd love to see them — post them in the comments section below!
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