At the beach, pool, or lake, a little water can become a playground for dogs in the summer. Water offers a chance to splash, exercise, and cool off.
But in the same way that swimming has risks for people, it can also have risks for dogs. Being aware of the potential challenges when taking your dog to the beach or lake will help you keep him safe while he still gets to enjoy all the swimming and splashing he wants.
Keeping Your Dog Safe In and Around Water
Dogs are not necessarily natural swimmers. While many dogs love being in the water, their doggy paddle is not an optimal swimming style so you will want to be sure conditions are safe for your pet and you are watching out for them at all times:
- Check the Water - Before your dog jumps in, check the water for strong currents, temperature, animals, debris, or blue or green algae. All of these can be dangerous for your dog.
- Teach Your Dog to Swim - If you are introducing your dog to water for the first time, take it slowly. Keep your dog on leash and let him get into the water himself. He should naturally begin to dog paddle, and you can lift his back legs to show him how to float.
- Watch What Your Dog is Drinking - Ocean water, pool water, and lake water are all unhealthy to drink and can make your dog sick. You may not be able to stop a few sips, but keep your dog from gulping down the water he is swimming in.
- Keep an Eye On Things - Never leave your dog unattended around water and make sure that he is always close enough that you could reach him in a few seconds if necessary.
- Get a Dog Life Vest - Dog life vests are a great option for any dog while swimming or on boats and docks, offering protection if your dog falls in or gets tired while paddling.
- Follow Up with a Bath - Rinsing off or taking a bath after swimming will remove bacteria, salt, minerals, pollution, and algae that can irritate a dog’s skin.
Remember that while cool water may feel refreshing, swimming is hard work and your dog could still be at risk for dehydration or heat exhaustion. Provide your dog access to plenty of clean water during exercise and enforce breaks, including indoor breaks in the AC, if your pup seems to be tiring.