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.
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
Labrador Retrievers have claimed the top spot on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dogs for the last 22 years. They are also among the most intelligent breeds, coming in at number seven. If you’re looking for a great family pet that gets along well with other dogs and cats, the Lab is a good choice. However, there are three important things to know about sharing your home with a Lab.
Labs love to play and run. Some become so wrapped up in what they’re doing they don’t slow down, even when they get tired. They can become so exhausted that they collapse. Overly excited or stressed out dogs are also at risk of collapsing. This is an inherited genetic disorder common in Labs with signs beginning to show up between the ages of five months to three years. Both sexes and all coat colors can be affected, but it seems to be more prominent in black Labs bred for field trials.
EIC was first detected in the 1990s, but this condition is on the rise and showing up in dogs that are otherwise perfectly healthy and fit for rigorous exercise. Collapse can happen within 5 to 20 minutes after beginning strenuous activities. High temperatures and humidity also play a role.
Symptoms can be mild to severe, and EIC can be life-threatening. Symptoms include: an unsteady/rocking gait, weak back legs, dragging the back legs, falling over while running, inability to move his head or legs after exercising, an abnormal movement of the feet while walking or running, front legs are stiff after collapsing, and high body temperature. Most dogs remain alert during a collapse and don’t experience any pain. Some dogs, however, may show confusion and appear disoriented. Recovery time is five to twenty-five minutes.
When you think of water safety for a dog, more than likely the cute image of a doggie with a life jacket sitting on a boat pops into your head. While this is a safety measure for dogs when boating or swimming, it is only one of the things that a responsible pet owner must consider to keep their dog safe in and around water.
So, Fido is wearing his life jacket as he rides on the boat for your big fishing trip, but there are other dangers that lurk in that idyllic activity. Fish hooks, bait, and other fishing paraphernalia can be quite dangerous to your canine friend. Make sure to keep these harmful items away from your dog while he’s on the boat with you.
The life jacket is a smart decision whether boat riding or just hanging out around the pool, at the beach or the lake. No matter how well your dog swims, currents, tides, and even his energy level can lead to drowning. Any time your dog is going to be around a body of water, it is advised that you have a canine approved life jacket on them.
Swimming pools present other dangers besides drowning. There are chemicals in pool water to keep it clean and good for swimming, but if your dog drinks the chlorine and other chemicals he can become very sick and even die. The same can be said for the ocean, ponds and creeks; while not treated with chemicals, these bodies of water can be contaminated with parasites and bacteria. Always make sure your dog has fresh drinking water nearby. It is always smart to rinse your dog off and even douse him with vinegar after swimming to kill bacteria, and to remove harmful agents that he may ingest while grooming. Vinegar is also effective at removing that “wet dog” smell.
Frolicking on the beach and running through the surf may be your dog’s idea of a perfect day. He may love the warm sand, cool water and playtime, but there are dangers to be found here as well. Sea lice and jellyfish can ruin your dog’s day and cost you a pretty penny at the vet. If your dog drinks too much salt water while playing in the surf, he could become sick. Again, it is important that your dog wears a life jacket when dealing with waves and undertow at the beach. A strong wave or a quick undercurrent can sweep your dog away right before your eyes; a life jacket will help him keep his nose above water until he can find the shore and you again.
Most dogs can swim, or can be taught to swim. Do not, however, throw your dog into the water and assume that he will be able to swim. He may be surprised and swallow water, choke and drown before you can get to him. Lead your dog into the water in a safe area and let him swim on his own. Once he is used to the water and enjoys swimming he may jump in eagerly. Swimming is excellent exercise for dogs and also provides them with relief from the summer heat. However, just as with children pet owners should pay close attention to their dog when in and around water. Make sure that summer fun doesn’t lead to tragedy by following all safety precautions for your four legged friend.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.
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.