Not all canines can swim, even some that are considered to be “water dogs.” Some breeds aren’t suited for swimming, and dogs with health issues, puppies and older canines can be put at risk. Boaters are required by law to provide a life vest for each person on board. A pet life vest is equally important if you take your dog with you on a boat or spend an afternoon swimming and playing at the beach or pool.
Boating is a fun summertime activity as long as everyone on board stays safe, including pets. Swimming can also pose a danger to dogs if the body of water has strong currents, like rivers or the ocean. Life vests can save lives. Here are five good reasons why your dog should wear a life vest when enjoying water activities.
Dog breeds bred to work in water have water resistant coats, webbed feet, and a tail that works like a rudder. Even though these breeds are comfortable in water and considered strong swimmers, they can still run into trouble in some circumstances, especially if they become fatigued. Dogs that have a large chest and small hindquarters are top heavy and not strong swimmers. Bulldogs, Boxers and Dachshunds have a hard time trying to stay afloat and are more apt to sink like a rock. Dogs with pushed-in noses and short-legged breeds tire easily.
Spring is in full swing, and summer is on the horizon. Here in Southern California, we kind of bypass spring and jump right into summer. But that’s OK with me, because I like summer the best. Summer means swimming!
Regular readers of the CANIDAE RPO blog know that I’m a fun loving yellow Labrador girl, and my name is Elle. When I was thinking of ideas on what I wanted to blog about, my human Mom said, “Elle, write about what you like to do and what you are good at.” Well, I’m good at eating (Hello! I’m a Labrador) and being a CANIDAE ambassador dog. I’m good at a lot of other things too, but most of all I’m good at swimming. It’s in my blood. My ancestors were helping fishermen from Canada who fished in the Atlantic Ocean with their nets and stuff like that.
But the best part of knowing how to swim is learning how to dock jump. It’s a natural progression. You can still go swimming and not learn to dock jump, but what is the point of that? Dock jumping is liberating – it’s like learning to fly, but even more fun than that because the landing always ends with a giant belly flop into a pool of cold water. Splashtastic!
For dogs who love to swim, playing in the water has many benefits. Swimming is an all-around healthy activity for your dog. It provides everything from exercise to stimulation, and a needed release for all that energy dogs have.
Exercise and Playtime
The most obvious benefit of swimming for your dog is exercise. Dogs often have excess energy to burn which needs to be channeled into activities that keep them active and healthy, and keeps them from being destructive out of boredom. Swimming is good for the whole body, from cardio to muscles. When a dog can swim, they are naturals and adapt to it very quickly. A good swimmer is fun to watch in the water.
Dogs who love to swim get a great deal of pleasure out of the activity. Some dogs will swim for hours, which is phenomenal exercise. It is even more fun when you go swimming along with your dog in the sea, a pool, or a lake. To add a little more excitement to the activity, bring along a ball or other object that floats for your dog to swim after and fetch.
As the mercury rises, our thoughts turn to summertime activities. If your plans include taking your best four-legged friend along for a trip to the beach, the lake, a swimming pool, or on a boat, there are a few water safety tips you should be aware of.
Water magnifies the sun so it usually feels hotter around beaches, lakes and pools. Watch your pet to make sure he doesn’t overheat when you’re near water; it’s good to be aware of the signs of heat stroke. Also remember that dogs are susceptible to sunburn, and hot sand or cement can blister your dog’s paws, so find ample shade for both of you.
Keep a lifejacket on your pooch when you’re near the water or on a boat. Not all dogs are good swimmers and even if your dog is, he can get cramps, get caught in a rip tide or simply get too tired to continue swimming. Hose your dog off after a swim to get the salt water, lake water or chlorine out of his coat.
Bring along plenty of fresh water for your dog and if possible, keep him from drinking the “recreational water.” Salt water may give him a stomach ache, lake water can have muck and parasites which may lead to diarrhea and vomiting, and pool water is full of chlorine and other chemicals.
If your water activities involve boating, there are additional precautions to keep in mind. Modern Dog magazine has a clever acronym that makes boating safety tips easy to remember: SCRUB.
S is for Safety. When you’re on a boat with your dog, safety should be a top priority. Living in a coastal town, we hear stories all summer about dogs that go overboard. There are special lifejacket-type flotation devices that are designed especially for dogs that go boating. These devices have a lift-handle on the top so if your dog does go overboard, you (or a passing boater) can easily pluck your pooch out of the water.
C is for Comfort. A day on the boat should be as fun for your dog as it is for you. Therefore, if your dog isn’t a seasoned boater, introduce him to the concept gradually. Invite him to first come aboard when the boat is tethered to the dock. Remember, there is a lot of new stimuli for him to get accustomed to; the rocking of the boat, the noise of the engine, the smell of the motor, and the confinement of the space. Once your dog seems comfortable entering the boat, hanging out, and exiting the boat while it’s tethered, take a short trip to gauge his sea legs. Build up to longer distances and rougher waters gradually. Remember, some dogs get motion sickness so it’s wise to have the proper doggie medication on hand.
R is for Routine. As with all things, dogs respond well to routine. They like knowing what’s next and what’s expected of them. This is especially true with boating. Feed your pet his regular CANIDAE dog food at the same time in the same place. Moreover, designate a safe place for your dog to go on the boat. Let him know that he has defined quarters that are accessible to him at all times.
U is for Understanding. In this case, understanding means you should extend it to other boaters. In the waters where we boat, there are sandbars where people anchor and congregate to enjoy the sun and surf. Lots of people have their dogs with them so it’s important for everyone to be considerate of each other and the environment. Nothing can ruin a good day on the water like a chorus of barking, lunging dogs or poop scattered in every direction. Make sure your dog is well-behaved, clean up after him and please don’t let him harm the environment (sand dunes, sea oats, native wildlife).
B is for Be Aware. Be aware of where your dog is at all times. Pay close attention to him when he boards or disembarks the boat, especially if you are tied to other boats (rafted). You don’t want your dog to fall into the water between two boats.
With these water safety tips in mind, you and your pet can enjoy a safe, fun-filled summer.
Top photo by Nathanmac87 Middle photo by Feeferlump Bottom photo by Jon-Eric Melsæter
Now that summer is officially here, it’s time to head outdoors with your dog! Going for walks and changing up the pace is a great way for both you and your four legged friend to get some exercise. However, there are lots of other ways you and your dog can get fit and have fun in the sun at the same time.
Dogs love to play fetch. You can throw a ball, a toy, a Frisbee or a stick and they will happily chase it down and bring it back to you. That’s great exercise for the dog, but you are just standing there waiting for him to come back. Change up the rules and race your dog to the object you throw. He will catch on pretty quickly and will run faster to beat you to the prize.
Build a “walk the plank” structure in your back yard. You will need four or more concrete blocks and a sturdy board (at least 6 feet long and 2 feet wide). Place the board on the concrete blocks spaced evenly. You don’t want the board to sag from you or your dog’s weight. Step up at the end and walk across the length and step down at the other end. Encourage your dog to do the same thing.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.