Summer is here and you’re probably anxious to go swimming or boating with your dog. Before you do, we recommend scheduling a preventive care exam to ensure your dog is healthy enough for the more strenuous activity of the season. We also urge dog owners to exercise caution around water and not assume their pet can swim. Although some breeds take to swimming naturally, others must be taught and some can’t swim at all due to their body structure. A good example of the latter is the bulldog.
Start Small When It Comes to Swimming
Your dog depends on you completely to keep her safe around water. She can also pick up on your own anxiety, so be sure to approach the water calmly and show respect for it. The first time she goes into the water, it should only be a few feet deep. This gives you the chance to observe how she handles it. It’s a good sign if she starts paddling right away, but you still don’t want to be more than one arm length away so you can grab her quickly if she does start sinking.
As your dog gets comfortable with the water, you can gradually increase your distance from him and the time he stays in the water. However, you still need to supervise him very closely and not leave him unattended in the water or near it. All it takes is for a bird to fly by or a group of kids to make a loud noise and he could end up in water too deep for him to paddle comfortably. Part of helping him adjust to the water should include teaching him to get out of the water when you say so or not to enter it until you give a verbal command.
Staying Safe on the Boat
Most dogs love riding in boats and cars with their human families. Unfortunately, people who wouldn’t think twice about putting their dog in a kennel or seatbelt in the car often fail to put a life vest on their dog when riding in a boat. You can help your dog get used to wearing a life vest by putting it on before you board the boat. She will quickly learn to accept wearing it as part of the routine.
Should your dog go overboard while boating, try to keep calm and pull her back in using a flotation device. Jumping in the water to rescue your dog could put you in danger as well. Additionally, be prepared for the idea that your dog could struggle with motion sickness. You may need to slow your pace or give her medication if it continues to be a problem. Lastly, choose one corner of the boat for your dog to relieve himself on longer trips. A section of sod or piece of astro turf can help identify the area and absorb waste.
If you experience an emergency with your pet this summer, please call us immediately at 952-448-2936 during regular office hours. After hours, you may call Eden Prairie Affiliated Emergency Veterinary Service at 952-942-8272.