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5 Helpful Tips When Swimming with Puppies This Summer

Not All Dogs Can Swim

It’s summertime. It’s time for family trips to the beach, lake, pool, and pond. Just like any member of the family, you want to be sure your puppy is as safe as possible. While most dogs love the water, some don’t. Some, in fact, are poor swimmers.

You can keep your pooch safe and healthy by the pool, in the water and after a swim by keeping a few guidelines in mind.

#1 Before Taking the Plunge

Take it slow if you’re swimming for the first time with your puppy. Stick to the shallow water. You can use toys to coax him into the water, but stay close. Support him as he starts paddling. This is especially important with younger dogs.

Remember, not all dogs can swim. Some are just poor swimmers, such as senior dogs, small-breed dogs and dogs with short legs or double coats. Often, dogs with heavy chests and short muzzles make poor swimmers — think pugs and bulldogs.

For some dogs, if you plan to be near the water at any time, you might consider keeping a flotation device specifically designed for his size/weight on him for safety’s sake.

If you have a pool, or live at the lake you need to ensure ‘first timers’ and ‘senior pets’ know how to get in and out, and that they can do it under their own steam.   Remember, swimming can be very tiring; for puppies and senior dogs you need to exercise caution and not let them overexert themselves.

Make sure you keep all pets away from pool chemicals and that your pool is fenced off, so there are no accidents. Try to keep your pets from drinking pool water, which can cause an upset stomach. The same goes for pond or lake water, which can be infested with parasites that can cause diarrhea, vomiting and other health issues.

#2 Swimming in Ponds and Lakes

Ponds, lakes, and other standing water, can become a breeding ground for parasites. Check with your veterinarian about applying topical anti-parasite medication well ahead of activities in or near water. Consult your medication’s directions; you may need to apply a treatment as much as 24 hours in advance to protect your dog from flea, tick and mosquitoes.

#3 When Sunbathing in the Beach

At the beach, keep plenty of fresh water available for your dog to drink. Never leave your dog unattended in or near water, but particularly in the surf, where waves and the undertow can put him at greater risk. Out of the water, keep an eye on your dog’s paws, taking care that the sand doesn’t rub them raw. Applying a paw-pad balm before and after wouldn’t hurt.

#4 Boating and Any General Watercraft

If you’re bringing your dog boating, be sure to have a pet-safe flotation device and ensure it fits properly and is in good shape. You’ll want plenty of fresh water for your dog to drink — particularly if he doesn’t go in the water, but stays on board, where temperatures can get quite warm. And once you’ve made sure his hydration needs are met, you’ll want to arrange for a place for him to urinate — either a litter box or “puppy pads.”

#5 Things to do After the Water Activities

  • Rinse thoroughly. Whether your dog has been in the lake or the pool, rinse him carefully to remove traces of chlorine, which can dry out skin, and remove dirt and bacteria from a dip in the lake or pond.
  • Dry and Comb. Use a towel or a blow dryer if you think that’s appropriate, but brush and comb out your dog’s coat to avoid tangles and matted fur.
  • Condition. For long-hair breeds in particular, spray your dog with a coat conditioner and comb it through.
  • Bathe. If your dog is in the water regularly, consult with your veterinarian to know what types of shampoos are appropriate for your pet and a recommendation for how often to bathe your dog.

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