How To Keep Your Dog Safe When They Go Swimming
Before your dog even steps their paws into the water, make sure to note the water’s color. This is by far the most important step in swimming safety for your dog because of a potential hazard known as an Algal Bloom. In northeastern Pennsylvania, we are looking specifically for a blue/green algae known as cyanobacteria which would occur typically in still or stagnant water. If there appears to be a thin green or blue film over the top of the water, avoid this body of water until it is clear. Signs of illness can occur rather quickly and your dog would need to seek immediate medical attention. Some signs include: drooling, vomiting, balance problems and diarrhea just to name a few. If you are unsure of the safety of the water, the best solution is to avoid it but there are other apps and websites you can check, in which scientists determine peak algal blooms in your area and alert the public when the risk is high.
It is good practice to clean out your dog’s ears with a pet safe ear cleaning solution when you arrive home from your day of swimming. This way, excess debris or potential bacteria won’t build up and cause an infection. Dogs with “floppy ears” in particular are more susceptible to developing ear infections due to the excess moisture buildup. The moisture gets trapped inside the ear and doesn’t quite have a good chance to air dry like our non floppy eared friends. At the very least, take a soft cloth or piece of gauze and dry the inside of your dog’s ears after a swim.
Depending on the depth of the water, and the activity on the lake that particular day, it is a good idea to get your dog a life vest. Anyone looking to take their dog on a boat should have one anyway but during peak days such as memorial day, independence day and labor day, it is a good idea to be extra cautious as the increased boating activity on the water could create more of a challenge for your dog to go swimming. For a more comprehensive guide on the best life jackets for your dog, check out the official American kennel Club website.
Always make note of the temperature of the water. This applies more to colder waters for two particular reasons. Dogs tend to get tired quicker in cold water due to the extra energy expended to maintain their body temperature. Another issue most people aren’t aware of regarding water temperature is something known as “limber tail.” You’ll know if your dog has this because they will stop wagging their tail, it will become droopy and your dog will be in noticeable pain. This condition is very treatable but be aware that it can also develop in dogs with a higher activity level and not just from cold water. Swimming is a great way for your dog to cool off during the hot summer weather. To learn more about keeping your dog cool during the summer, check out our other article entitled How To Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer.
The Bottom Line
With nicer weather upon us, it is a great change of pace to give your dog a different form of exercise than just a walk. Yes, I highly encourage dog walking, but there is nothing like letting your pet explore the outdoors in a whole new way. This can be a very fun time for everyone but knowing what to look for can keep you and your dog safe this summer.