Water Danger and Dogs – 153
Did you know that not all dogs have the natural ability to swim? In fact, water can be downright dangerous even to dogs that love swimming! There are no ‘doggie lifeguards’, hence it is your responsibility to watch over your dog when in the water and be prepared to provide assistance if your dog is struggling. Equally important are measures you can take to prevent the possibility of problems occurring. Respect the water and your dog’s limitations to ensure that you have a pleasurable break from the heat of summer.
Dangers for the ‘Fish out of Water’ Dog
This is for the dogs that love the water. You couldn’t ever imagine your dog having problems in the water as it appears to be more comfortable in the water than on land. There can however, be an increased risk of water-related injuries in these dogs if you become complacent thinking that your dog is such a good swimmer and leave the dog alone or stop watching it for a couple minutes when it is swimming. Perhaps you have a pool in the backyard or back out onto a body of water where you just let your dog out to go swimming. It only takes a second for something to go wrong, after which the situation degrades quickly. Two quick examples of accidents that can occur while your dog is swimming include sudden onset of fatigue and swallowing water and panicking. Additionally, some dogs will be so determined to retrieve a stick thrown to them in the water that they may not realize their limitations and get too tired to make it back into shore. Dogs who swim in waves face the added risk of a wave crashing over their head. This may cause them to swallow water and panic and they may drown if not helped by their owner. Furthermore, strong undertows can easily drag a dog far out so that it is unable to swim back in. There are other risks that face your dog while swimming in the water, but generally if you keep a close eye on your pet, swimming will remain an enjoyable experience for the both of you.
Dangers for the ‘Land’ Dog
If your dog will not go near the water, or perhaps just likes to put its paws in and not swim, it is imperative that you consider the dangers that face your dog regarding water. Chances are that at some point in its life, your dog will be faced with a situation with water, whether accidental or not. To begin with, if at all possible and your dog is not terrified of water, it may be a good idea to attempt to teach your dog to swim. Do not force this upon your dog, not all dogs are natural swimmers so they may not be able to grasp the concept of swimming. Even a dog that is of a breed that is known for its swimming abilities may have difficulties. Each dog is an individual, and just like people, some will be better at certain skills than others. If your dog refuses to learn how to swim, and you will be exposing it to situations where it is in close contact with water, such as boating, it would be wise to consider arming your pooch with a floatation device. There are doggie life preservers that will keep your dog afloat if it happens to accidentally go overboard. Boat docks and pools provide other opportunities in which dogs may slip or fall over the edge and can drown if they are unable to swim, or even if they can swim but panic. The take home message for the land dog and water is that just because your dog doesn’t like the water, it does not mean that it may not accidentally find itself in the water. Always keep a careful watch on dogs that can’t swim near water and be prepared to save a dog that cannot swim or one that panics.
General Precautions for Dogs and Water
If you have a pool, watch your dog as it swims, and teach it where the steps are so that it will be able to find them again should it fall in when you are not watching. If you plan on taking your dog on boating trips, allow it to become accustomed to the boat before you take it out on the water. Make sure to have a comfortable location your dog can retreat to, or be prepared to slow down the boat speed should your dog look very uncomfortable. Life preservers are a great precaution for both dogs that cannot swim and dogs that can swim. Finally, before you let your dog go swimming anywhere, scrutinize the environment to look for anything that could be a potential danger to your pet. If you are unsure whether or not something in the environment is hazardous, err on the side of safety and go somewhere else to swim or tell your dog you’ll have to take a rain check.
By Laura Platt – Pets.ca writer