One of the best ways to cool off on a hot summer day is to head to the nearest beach or other swimming area. Dogs need to cool off, too, so they often accompany their owners for some fun in the water. Inasmuch as going to the beach or to the lake is fun, bodies of water also present the potential for danger. For example, many dog owners take it for granted that their animals are, by nature, strong swimmers. In fact, each year thousands of dogs drown because they are not. Therefore, when around water, it is important to keep an eye on them at all times.
Just as any human can, a dog can run into problems in the water for any number of reasons. The animal might become exhausted or develop a leg cramp that would prevent its swimming back to safety. Most are lightweight enough to be easily carried unsafe distances offshore. Any number of things could go wrong, so the first rule of dog water safety is to keep a mindful eye on one's pet.
Properly training one's dog is also imperative to assure a safe water experience. One should train his or her pet to stay away from the water unless the owner is right there to supervise. Dogs can easily mistake a pool cover for a solid surface and be quickly enveloped after leaping onto one. The same is true for solar pool covers. The well-trained dog will sit and stay. It will also come when called. These three commands are some of the most crucial when dogs are around bodies of water.
A great safety aid, and one that no dog owner should be without when around water, is the life jacket. These days, most pet supply stores sell life jackets that are especially made for dogs. When choosing a life jacket for a dog, it is important to read all information carefully and to choose the one that is the right fit. The pet owner should not become overly confident just because his or her pet is wearing a life jacket, however. Even when wearing this marvelous safety device, things can go wrong.
Older dogs should be watched very carefully. Even when wearing a life jacket, an older dog might have real problems getting back to shore if the waves carry it out too far. It is easy for an older dog to fall into a rapidly moving body of water such as a river, or to be swept up in an ocean wave.
People love to gather near large bodies of water. Unfortunately, not all of them are conscientious about cleaning up after themselves before they exit. People often leave broken glass and trash scattered about the areas. Therefore, the pet owner should be cautious about his or her dog's paws and to check frequently for any cuts or embedded materials. It is a good idea to carry a dog-specific first aid kit to treat these or any other wounds that may occur when around water.
Pet owners can take it for granted that because their dogs have furry coats, they are well protected from the chill of the water and the intensity of the sun. This is a tragic misconception. In fact, hypothermia is a leading cause of dog drowning. This is especially true of both puppies and older dogs as well. The prudent dog owner will watch for signs such as dilated pupils, shivering, stupor or coma, that indicate the animal is experiencing hypothermia. Hypothermia can greatly impede a dog's ability to swim.
When swimming with the family pet, parents should advise their children that the dog is a living, breathing member of the family, and should not be used as a flotation device. A child can unwittingly hold a dog's head under the water and prevent its breathing, simply by improperly holding on to it while in the water. Dogs should be given a great deal of space while in the water. Children should avoid any activities with their pets that can cause the dogs to struggle.
All it takes is a little common sense and careful attention to keep one's dog safe in the water.