Fact or fiction: All dogs naturally know how to swim. Believe it or not, fiction! While all dogs instinctively can do the “doggy paddle,” not all pups can stay afloat for an extended period of time or even know how to keep themselves above water from the get-go. Also, breeds such as bulldogs can often drown because of their short noses and legs. So, if you don’t want your dog “swimmin’ with the fishes” (in a bad way) here are some tips based on which body of water you’ll be visiting:
Before even attempting to get Max into a pool, gently get his paws wet in the shallow end to see how he responds to water. You may have to repeat this stage a few times before he understands that the big, giant body of water in front of them is actually fun! Coax him in further with a toy or in the safety of your arms (be wary if he freaks though – so it’s important to know your dog’s temperament first) and monitor his swimming ability. You can also get a life jacket with handle, which is a safe backup until he is fully trained, or for him to wear every time if he is a breed that will never be able to master swimming on his own. Once he’s in deep (in a good way) keep checking on him to make sure the chlorine isn’t bothering his sensitive eyes, ears and nose, and hose him off afterwards with clean water. Lastly, don’t let him drink the pool water and keep fresh water available instead. Most importantly, teach your dog how to get out of the pool on his own.
Beach sand gets HOT. Ever see “that guy” walking like a champ…only to see him start booking it to his blanket after a few strides onto the beach? Don’t be “that guy” with your dog. Their paws are tough, but sensitive, so make sure your dog has a cooler spot to stand on too. Make sure you have clean drinking water and sunscreen as dogs can get sunburned too, as well as get melanoma. In fact, one of our employee’s dogs was recently diagnosed with skin cancer. Use a dog safe sunscreen that doesn’t contain zinc oxide - which is toxic to dogs - and apply it to her nose and ears. Don’t let your dog overdo it while you’re at the beach either. Running in the sand is a great workout, but be on the lookout for muscle strain, sharp rocks, coral, and litter on the beach. Other than that, Life’s a Beach, so go for it!
If Gilligan loves a ride in the car, then he’ll probably love a boat ride too! When taking your little skipper out for a three-hour tour, be sure to bring the following with you: life vest, puppy pads/disposal bags, extra towels or outdoor pillow, clean water and bowl, sunscreen, food, and a safety plan in case he accidentally goes overboard - or in the event that you end up on a desert island with Ginger and Mary Ann.
If you decide to take Sadie in the water, ensure there are no motorboats around. She’ll be fixated on fetching the ball you throw and won’t be paying attention to oncoming boat traffic. If playing fetch, throw the toy half of the distance she is able to swim. She may make it out there ok but could struggle to get back. Lake water can harbor bacteria, especially leptospirosis, so limit the amount of drinking your dog does from standing water. Fortunately, there is a leptospirosis vaccine available if you plan to frequently visit lakes with your dog. Ask your veterinarian if this vaccine is a good choice for your level of adventure. Also, as with any water activity, you should gently dry out their ears when the day is done. This is especially important for dogs with long, flappy ears to avoid potential ear infections.
Do you love all of the above? Here’s some nautical accessories to make you and your dog’s life beachy keen: