Not all dogs like to swim and like us, many dogs need to learn how to swim. Some breeds are more suited to swimming than others. Some dogs discover they like the water if they have a canine friend who likes the water. Dogs sometimes learn to swim gradually when they chase a toy or ball into shallow water or if they go in with their owner. Just be sure the introduction to water is safe and gradual.
If the dog doesn’t want to swim, don’t force him to. That can be frightening for a dog and potentially dangerous.
There are lots of styles of life jackets available for dogs these days. My dogs have been conditioned to wear life jackets and my preference are the high visibility jackets with handles you can use to pull your dog from the water if necessary.
Know what sea animals inhabit the area
you are visiting. Interactions between dogs and some wildlife
can result in injury to either animal and diseases can be transmitted
. What looks like “play” between a dog and a sea otter, for example, can result in injuries or fatality for either party, so ensure your dog has a totally reliable recall or will leave anything you ask him or her to if they are off leash
. In the area that I live in, dogs are prohibited on beaches certain times of year when some wild birds are visiting to feed or to raise young.
Wherever you are with your dog, don’t allow your dog to eat carrion that may have washed up. A dog in the UK reportedly died after eating poisonous fish parts washed up on the shore after a sudden storm. Dog owners in Australia report that dogs have been poisoned by sea creatures named “sea hares.” Jellyfish and other sea animals can also pose a risk to dogs who are swimming.
Some bodies of water carry water-borne diseases
so familiarize yourself with what may be in your area. Some plants are toxic including some types of algae
. In 2016, a lake in our province came under scrutiny when several dogs died after swimming in it and owners reported a blue-green algae bloom
Water toxemia is a condition dogs can get if they ingest too much water. This can happen when they are retrieving balls in the water and ingest water. The ingested water brings their sodium levels to a dangerously low level. Symptoms of water toxemia include loss of coordination, lethargy, bloating, vomiting, glazed eyes, light gum color, and excessive salivation. This condition is often fatal so a dog with these symptoms needs to see a vet immediately.
Some breeds of dog have double coats
(an outer layer and an inner layer) and water can get trapped
in the coat and create irritation on the skin
. Rinsing the dog after a swim helps avoid this. Other breeds have natural oils in their coat that protect them
. Let dogs shake the water out of their ears and dry the ears carefully (without going too deep into the ear canal) because water in the ears
can provide a good environment for microbes to grow and cause an ear infection. Check the temperature of the sand- like concrete it can get very hot and burn a dog’s pads
Have fun with your dog and stay safe!