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Water safety for your dog

Water safety for your dog

Many dogs love to swim and play in the water.  Some dogs are great swimmers (like many retrievers who were bred to retrieve waterfowl for hunters) but not all dogs are natural swimmers.

Some dogs discover they enjoy swimming once taught. There are several ways to do this.  Choose a quiet, shallow spot in the water and get in the water. Your dog may follow you into the water – if he does, he likely will paddle with his front legs and you can support him as he learns to float. Keep it fun and, if he doesn’t want to go in, don’t force him.

If your dog likes to retrieve, another way is to start is by having the dog retrieve a toy while he is wading through shallow water (I throw the fetch toy along the edge of the water rather than straight into the water initially). A third way is to find a water loving dog who will encourage your dog into the water.

Some dogs are natural swimmers and love the water; others may have to be taught to swim. Here, Jane’s dog Pete enjoys a visit to Bonniebrook Beach. Jane Bowers photo

To keep pets safe, watch them all the time around water.

On boats, make sure your dog wears a well-fitting life jacket that can easily be seen should your dog accidentally go overboard.

Make sure they can get out of a swimming pool (install ramps or stairs made for pets just in case) and store pool chemicals out of reach of a pet.

Now is great time to enroll in a pet first aid course (there is one coming up soon in Sechelt) so a dog who needs help can get first aid on the way to the veterinarian.

Ensure fresh water is available and avoid letting dogs drink ocean, lake, standing or pool water. The bacteria, parasites or salt in the water they swim in can make them sick. In addition, exposure to some types of blue-green algae is often fatal so avoid areas where there are “blooms” of algae. Dogs can also get water toxemia if they ingest too much water while playing , or drink too much water after exercise. Both these conditions require immediate veterinary attention.

Have fun and be safe in and around the water.

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