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How Do I Safely Swim with My Dog?

Stories from HART

How Do I Safely Swim with My Dog?

Sarah Myers

Many different dog breeds have a strong love for the water. This makes swimming a great activity to provide exercise for your pet. It's also good for their joints, mental wellbeing, and heart health.

But before you start dog paddling, there are some swimming techniques to be aware of for your pet. Four-Legged friends should also practice proper safety measures when swimming. For some pets, this may include a doggy life jacket. 

Read on to learn more about how to ensure safe dog swimming habits.  

Consider Your Dog's Breed

A dog's breed can help determine how comfortable they will be in the water. Certain breeds of dogs get made to be in the water and have natural swimming skills. 

Dogs with webbed feet tend to maneuver in the water better. Other breeds have longer tails for helping them learn how to steer when swimming. They also have fur coats that help to repel water better. 

Water dogs include the Irish Water Spaniel Duck and the Trolling Retriever. Standard Poodles, Otterhounds, and English Setters are other breeds that enjoy the water.  

For breeds that may not be naturals, you want to consider the length of the dog's legs. Small dog breeds may have trouble staying afloat, including dachshunds. These types of dogs will likely need a life jacket.  

The dog's age should also come into play. Young puppies may not have developed their swimming skills yet. When caring for an older dog you may also need to have them wear a life vest when in the water. 

An overweight dog may also have issues with swimming or tire out easier. Conditions like hip dysplasia may also call for a life vest. 

Assess the Swimming Situation  

Will you be taking your dog on trips to the lake? Or will your dog be taking a plunge in the backyard swimming pool? 

Most pups can doggy paddle in a pool on their own, as long as they have swimming skills. But be sure they have an easy way to get in and out of the pool.

It's best to have a life vest on hand for deeper waters and stronger currents. Certain activities like boating and canoeing are safer when your dog wears a life vest. This is in case of an overboard accident or a pet that gets tired from swimming all day.

A life vest also acts as a way to increase the visibility of your pet when in the water. Choose a style in a bright color with a handle to be able to pull your pet from the water. 

It's also important to pay attention to the water's temperature. Even for typical swimming dog breeds, cold water can be uncomfortable. It can also cause health issues like hypothermia.  

Making the Most of Your Dogs Swimming Experience 

 Dogs swimming activities are a great way to maintain the health and wellbeing of your pet. Yet, it's important to always consider the unique needs of your pet, as well as their breed. 

This includes senior dogs, those with special needs, and dogs recovering from surgery. These pets may not get suited for swimming, with or without a life vest. For other dogs, it helps to keep a life vest on hand if you plan to take them in the water. 

These safety techniques are an important part of keeping your pets happy and healthy. Learn more about how Bredel Veterinary Clinic can help care for your pets.