Summer is here! And so is the hot weather! Swimming is a great summertime activity for your dog if they enjoy it, but here are some things to remember if you take your dog swimming.
**Find a safe place for your dog to swim. Swimming pools are great, but make sure the surface around is safe-not too slick, not too hot (to burn their pads), and there is a safe place for your dog to get in and out. And of course that the dogs are allowed! Slow moving creeks and ponds can be ideal too. But again make sure there is nothing your dog can get tangled in, watch out for nature's other creatures like snapping turtles and snakes. And keep in mind that drinking pond/pool water can upset some dog's digestive tracts as well as expose them to diseases.
**Not all dogs like to swim, so start slow. Do not throw your dog in or force them in. If your dog is nervous, you can try wading in and encouraging them to come to you with treats or a toy. But let them go at their own pace. Your dog may only get a toe wet the first time. Sometimes having an experienced dog swimming will give your dog the confidence to go in too.
**Use a life jacket. If your dog has never swam, use a well fitted life jacket. Sometimes, this will give them the confidence they need to swim.
**Do not over do it! Swimming is great exercise but can be tiring. Make certain to start with short sessions and build up their endurance. Even if they are loving it, bring them out of the water before they become exhausted. Dogs can get conditions like swimmer's/limber tail from swimming too much.
Enjoy the weather and stay safe!
Boo Donoho, DVM