It seems as if we went straight from winter to summer time, with about 7 days of Spring in between seasons! Temperatures have been in the 70s & 80s here in the Ft. Bragg, NC area, and what better way to cool off than with some refreshing H2O?!
Missy & Buzz Cooling Off
Besides the obvious benefit of cooling our K9 friends off, water has several other benefits:
1. It is gentle on the joints, and can therefore be enjoyed by all age groups. It is also a perfect way of weight loss for severely obese canines without experiencing the unusual pressure of weight on their joints while exercising on dry land.
2. It’s also great for weight management! While summer along with its heat can make it challenging to provide the proper exercise for Fido, going for a swim is the perfect solution for this seasonal workout challenge.
3. It is great for building up stamina, which is required by all those canines athletes competing in agility and similar sports categories.
4. Water is therapeutic and is therefore the perfect means of rehabilitation for any dog recovering from an accident resulting in spinal injuries or suffering from physical limitations such as hip dysplasia, OCD (osteochondritis dissecans = inflammation of cartilage or a bone in a joint), degenerative myelopathy (disease of the nervous system causing nerve damage), and luxating patella (displacement of the kneecap).
Side-note: In order for water to reach its full healing potential, it needs to be warm, close to the dogs’ body temperature.
A word of advice regarding K9 cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment: Consult with your vet prior to taking your pup swimming, as she may be simply too weak for this activity.
For more information about hydrotherapy for dogs, please refer to the Association of Canine Water Therapy!
In order to keep swimming fun and refreshing, let’s review some safety features:
1. Always supervise your dog’s swimming adventures. Do not leave him alone even for just a few minutes, as he could have a seizure, drown, be attacked by a predator (depending on where you happen to be swimming), be stolen by a criminal individual….the list is endless and its limits are your imagination!
2. Be sure to have your dog wear his IDs on his collar and make sure that the collar fits snug, yet comfortably! This simple safety feature may reunite you faster with your beloved dog should he go missing in swimming action ~ for whatever reason.
He could, for example, be taken out into the ocean by a strong current. This happens on a regular basis, and while it is of course concerning for the owner, lifeguards and beach patrols strongly urge owners not to go swimming after their dog.
In most cases, the dogs are washed up ashore a few miles away from where they originated, while the majority of concerned owners who attempt to pursue their dogs end up drowning in the currents!!!
A different scenario could be caused by an unlocked gate ~ granted, a dog who enjoys swimming is not likely to run away from it.
However, dogs are curious by nature and might be tempted by an irresistible smell on the other side of the gate or fence, so always check the parameters of the swimming grounds before the splashing begins.
3. Always know what to do in case of an emergency and have a doggie first aid kit (<– read my post about it here!) readily available. I also suggest having a first aid book or leaflet nearby, instructing you on life-saving steps to take.
Our Dog First Aid Kit
4. In the rare event of a drowning dog, pull him out of the water and get him to dry ground, and hold him or place him in an upside down position (depending on size), allowing the body to rid itself of the ingested water.
In extra-large breeds such as Great Danes or Mastiffs where the upside down position is unrealistic to achieve (especially if by oneself), the dog’s head needs to be placed lower than the rest of the body.
CPR may need to be performed if the dog’s heart does not continue beating after water has come out of his system.
This technique is described in Amy Shojai’s “The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats”. She also gives the following tip for unconscious dogs who remain non-responsive to CPR:
“[…] Stick a needle or safety pin into the slit in the upper lip beneath your pet’s nose. Insert it down to the bone, then wiggle it back and forth.” (Amy Shojai, “The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats”, page 155).
I have mentioned her book in several previous posts, and can only repeat myself: Investing in her first aid book is absolutely worth it!
A dog rescued from drowning needs to be kept warm on your way to the vet. You can achieve this by wrapping him in some blankets.
5. Some dogs may ingest too much water, so regular swimming breaks are important. Water intoxication happens when too much H2O has been swallowed, and results in vomiting, lethargy, and pale gums. Always offer fresh water during swimming breaks!
6. If your dog goes swimming for the very first time in her life, make sure to have her wear a canine life vest. This will keep her safe until she gets used to the new activity.
7. It’s a good idea in general to always have your pup wear a life vest, especially so when taking her swimming in a lake or the ocean.
The life vest should be of a neon color for easy visibility with a reflective trim. It should also feature a handle on top making it easier to pull your pup out of the water if need be.
Additionally, keeping your dog on leash may be required on a dog beach ~ always be sure to familiarize yourself with the local beach rules. Unless a leash of specific length is mandatory, I’d opt for a longer one (we use 50 ft leashes) which gives your dog more space for swimming, while keeping him within your reach should you have to reel him in.
The same applies to swimming in lakes. Side-note: Don’t let your dog swim in standing waters, as those may harbor poisonous snakes!
8. Unless you take your dog swimming at a specific doggie pool at a Dog Spa, for example, be sure to know how the pool is maintained, including the chemicals used for sanitation purposes.
You don’t want to allow your dog to swim in water which uses chemicals too harsh on your canine companion’s skin, and you also don’t want to experience the opposite side of the spectrum! If you have your own pool, make sure to use the proper filter capable of handling your dog’s fur.
Buzz At The Dog Pool At The Olde Town Pet Resort in Dulles, VA
Side note regarding above two pictures (taken at our old apartment complex pool): Since I’m sure that our old apartment complex used harsher chemicals than the Doggie Pool at the wonderful Olde Town Pet Resort (HUGE SIGH, we miss that place…), the pups got a bath as soon as we got back home.
We HAD to take advantage of the pool closing of the season doggie event though, where the resident pups were allowed to swim in the pool!
9. Last but not least: Give your pup a bath after having romped around on the sandy beach and after having dipped into a pool where chemicals abound!