Dog Swim Safety: Do These Three Things
Swimming is the perfect summer exercise activity – especially for senior dogs with joint health issues and cold-weather dog breeds. However, swimming isn’t 100% safe; it poses some risks. Before you head to the lake or river with your pup in tow, consider the following top three safety tips for swimming with dogs.
Three Safety Tips for Taking Your Dog Swimming
1. Swim Lessons
Although most people associate dogs with water, not all dogs can or like to swim. There are certain breeds, like retrievers, that have a predisposition to spending time in the water. Other breeds, however, might not be so comfortable. So, be sure to start out slowly with your pet. Test the water in a shallow area where there is no current and stay close. Watch your dog closely to see how they react. Do they dive right in and paddle away? Or do they seem apprehensive to get their paws wet? Take cues from your dog and don’t try to force your dog to swim, if they don’t seem like they want to.
2. Avoid Toxic Algal Blooms
From mid-June to September in Wisconsin (and elsewhere), blue-green algae is a problem and a risk for pets swimming in fresh water. These algal blooms contain cyanobacteria and are highly toxic and are usually fatal for pets who swim in them. Swimming in a harmful algal bloom (HAB) can quickly turn a fun day at the lake with your pet into a tragedy by late afternoon or evening
3. Know Your Dog’s Limits
Just because your dog can swim and enjoys swimming it doesn’t mean they’re ready to swim Niagara Falls or maybe even in a swift creek. If your dog is a puppy or senior, has short legs, is brachycephalic, is a small breed, or simply isn’t the best swimmer, be sure to stay in places where there is no current and the water is shallow enough for them to touch the bottom.
It’s smart to invest in a life vest for your dog – whether they are a strong swimmer or not. This will prevent your dog from getting overly tired or too cold and struggling to stay afloat.
Talk Dog Swimming Safety With Our Expert Veterinarians in Wisconsin
If you aren’t sure about whether your dog can swim safely or what their limitations in the water might be, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian at Animal Wellness Center in Wisconsin.