Water Safety

Posted by Southtowns Animal Hospital on July 20, 2019

Not all dogs can swim, and many are poor swimmers.  If your dog cannot swim, or doesn’t usually have access to water, invest in a life jacket before going swimming in a pool or natural body of water.  Life jackets are a smart idea for any dogs going out on a boat in a larger body of water, even those that swim well.  Even if your dog is wearing a life jacket, never leave it unattended in or around the water.

Keep pools fenced and gates locked if you can’t supervise your dog.

Children’s wading pools can be dangerous to small and toy breed dogs.  Empty such pools when not in use.  Standing water left in wading pools is attractive to rodents and wildlife that can spread leptospirosis, and stagnant water is a breeding ground for the mosquitos that spread heartworm.

Pool owners should invest in a pool alarm to alert to unexpected entries into the water.  Also consider installing an animal escape ramp.  In hot summer weather stray cats and other wildlife may come to a swimming pool seeking drinking water and fall in.  A ramp can help any animal escape from a pool.

Make sure there is a way for your dog, or any animal that may enter the water, to climb out.  Teach your dog how to find and use this exit.  Even good swimmers who love the water can become exhausted and disoriented.  Ladders are not safe exits for animals.  Very few animals can use a ladder to exit a pool.  Always supervise your dog in the water.

There is a product called a “safety turtle” that attaches to a pet’s collar.  There is also a portable remote receiver, and if the collar device is submerged, the receiver emits an alarm.  This is a great device to use when travelling.

Other dangers include pool covers or solar covers.  These can trap even a strong swimmer under water.

Just like people, some dogs can be sensitive to chlorine and pool chemicals.  A rinse off in fresh water after pool play can help reduce irritation.  Pets who swim in natural bodies of water such as ponds and creeks can pick up parasites such as Giardia that can cause stomach upset and diarrhea.

Some dogs will swallow large amounts of water while swimming and playing fetch.  This can lead to an upset stomach, or even bloat in susceptible dogs.  Be observant!  If your dog’s abdomen seems swollen, he is uncomfortable or he is trying to vomit but can’t bring anything up, this is an emergency!  Call us right away or seek help at a 24-hour facility after hours

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