It’s summer and many of us are headed to the beach with our dogs. The veterinarians at Brookfield Animal Hospital have this advice to keep everyone safe.
Stay On Guard
Pets are just as much at risk of drowning in water as children. Enthusiastic dogs are often eager to follow their human family members into deep water, but don’t have the sense to judge if they have the energy to paddle back. Tired dogs will think nothing of hanging onto humans that are in the water. If that person is a poor swimmer, there could be an accident. Pet owners should never allow an inexperienced pet to swim unwatched or allow the pet to venture into an unfamiliar body of water (especially the ocean) without supervision.
Use A Leash When You Want Safety and Control
Provided that you don’t allow the leash to tangle around another pet or person in the pool, you can leash your swimming pet for safety and control purposes. Remember that pets can choke on water, so make sure that the leash isn’t too restrictive or that you don’t pull your pet’s mouth underwater.
Different Strokes For Different Folks
Beaches and swimming areas are usually very hot and don’t offer a lot of shade, so you must be very careful that your dog has access to shade and fresh drinking water. If your pet is brachiocephalic, or flat faced, he is especially prone to overheating, a dangerous, sometimes fatal condition that can occur very quickly. Brookfield treats a surprising number of heat stroke (over heated dogs) every year, nearly all of them brachiocephalic breeds. When traveling to the beach with a pet, always select a place to sit that provides shade.
Signs of Heat Stroke In Dogs
- Excessive panting
- Racing heartbeat
- Glassy, fearful eyes
- Bright red tongue
- Thick saliva
Pets and Chlorinated Water
Dogs will drink the chlorinated water of swimming pools, usually without any effect on their health, but too much chlorinated water can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Provide a drinking bowl of cold water if your pet is swimming in a pool, then teach your dog the location of the bowl and encourage him to use it.
Pets and Ponds
Pets can swim in ponds and lakes. Be mindful of nearby fishers and boaters that may not see your pet or for whom your pet may be a bother. You can play fetch with your dog in the water, but start out with short distances if your pet is new to the lake or to swimming and gradually build up to longer distances. If your pet is excessively panting, don’t push the game. Give your dog a time out in the shade and access to fresh water.
Steer Clear of Algae Blooms
Every year, a handful of dogs nationwide die of exposure to toxic algae. According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Protection:
“Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, occur naturally in lakes and ponds throughout Connecticut. These microscopic organisms often go unnoticed and cause no harm. However, when nutrient loading exceeds certain levels, a waterbody can experience nuisance blue-green algae blooms that may produce and release toxins.”
The CT DEEP site goes on to say:
“In Connecticut, most algae blooms occur from midsummer to early fall. During a bloom the following conditions may be observed in surface waters:
- The water may be cloudy or even thick like pea soup.
- It may look like someone spilled paint on the water.
- The water will likely be green or brown.
- There may be a mat of algae, scum or foaming on the water surface.
To obtain the latest information on ongoing blue-green algae blooms, call your Local Public Health Agency, CT Department of Public Health at (860) 509-7758, or CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection at (860) 424-3028.”
Know Your Dog Breed’s Affinity For Swimming
Dog Breeds That Like To Swim
According to the AKC, there are 16 dog breeds that are naturally inclined to be great swimmers. The list includes several kinds of Retrievers, Setters, Spaniels, Water Dogs, plus the Standard Poodle, the Otterhound, the Newfoundland, and the breed thought to be the progenitor of all Water Dogs, the Lagotto Romagnolo. If you are an owner of any of these breeds, you can trust that your pet comes to the pool with a bit of built-in genetic know how.
Dog Breeds That Are Less Likely To Enjoy Swimming
Dog breeds that are traditionally water averse include many toy breeds like the Chihuahua, the Papillon, The Chinese Crested, the Pekingese, Greyhound, the Pug, the Shih Tzu, the Maltese, the Yorkie, and the Bichon Frise. In general, smaller breeds with less fat on their bodies are more at risk for drowning and hypothermia than larger breeds with more body fat which helps the pet to stay buoyant.
Don’t Push Your Pet To Swim
Don’t toss your dog into the water if he doesn’t want to go in. Not only are you putting your dog at risk of inhaling water, but you’re likely to cause your pet to be fearful around you and the water in the future.
Consider Pet Safety Devices
Did you know that they make life jackets for dogs? They also make ramps that help your pet to get out of the pool if he accidentally falls in or isn’t strong enough to pull himself out. If you purchase a life jacket for your dog, introduce it to him in your home first before you allow him to wear it at the pool. Let your pet control how deep he is willing to go while wearing the life jacket. When your pet is finished swimming, remove the jacket to prevent your pet from overheating. If you install a pool ramp, make sure you train your dog where it is and how to use it.
After The Swim
It’s a good idea to rinse your pet after he’s had a day of swimming. Pond water can contain harmful bacteria, pool water contains chlorine, and the ocean has salt, so a good rinse will keep your pet healthy and prevent skin irritation or drying.
Dangers of Ocean Swimming
By far, it is more dangerous for your pet to swim in the ocean than in a pond, lake, or swimming pool. If you take your pet to the ocean be watchful for these hazards
- Sunburn: Fair skinned pets are as much at risk for sunburn as humans, especially on their noses, their bellies and other hairless parts of their bodies. You can purchase sunscreen for your light skinned dog using the link below.
- Waves: Big waves can overwhelm your dog and cause him to choke.
- Currents: Just like people, dogs can be pulled out to sea by ocean currents. Unless you are sure the sea is safe, do not play fetch in water that is too deep or too rough.
- Hot Sand: If it’s too hot for your feet; it’s likely too hot for your dog. If you take your dog to the beach, make sure he has a source of shade and way to get off the hot sand.
50% Off First Exam For All Adopted Pets!
Whether you are a new or existing client, Brookfield offers 50% off the cost of your pet’s first physical examination.