Topic of the Month
8/2010: Safety Tips for Paddling Pets
Safety Tips for Paddling Pets
Does your dog love the water? Use these tips to keep your dog safe and comfortable at water play.
If it is not safe for people, it is not safe for pets. Obey warning signs that say "Do Not Swim" or "Beach Closed."
Make sure your dog can swim. Not all dogs are natural swimmers. Dogs with short legs, dense bodies, and a short or no tail have a hard time staying afloat. Dogs with flat noses have a hard time breathing in water. Dogs that are old or overweight tire easily. Introduce your dog to water gradually and in a situation where you have control.
Make sure the water is clean. Lakes, ponds, and rivers may contain chemical, sewage, algae, bacteria, or other bits and bugs that can cause trouble when they come into contact with your pet's skin--or the inside of its stomach. Do not let your dog drink or swim in water that is not clean.
Consider the temperature. Cold water can quickly lower your pet's body temperature and cause hypothermia. If it is too cold for you, it is too cold for your pet.
Give your dog a drink. Bring clean water from home, and offer it to your dog often. That way, your pet will be less likely to drink water from pools, rivers, or lakes that may be harmful or cause stomach trouble.
Avoid infections. If your dog is prone to skin and ear infections, talk to your veterinarian about whether your pet should avoid water, because moisture can encourage infections.
Watch for soreness afterward. Swimming is great exercise for a dog with arthritis, but your pet may be sore afterwards. Talk to your veterinarian before you take your pet swimming.
Bring a first aid kit. Sharp objects underwater can cut your pet's feet and legs. Carry a first aid kit that contains a disinfectant (e.g. iodine), an antibiotic ointment for superficial wounds and sterile bandages.
Make your dog wear a life vest. A life vest is important at the ocean because pets can be pulled under by strong tides and currents. When on a boat, a dog should wear a vest; when the boat is moving, be sure your dog is secured by a leash or is in a crate. Be sure the vest is on right and fits well; adjust the straps to make it snug but not too tight.
End with a good bath. After a day in the water, bathe your pet with a mild shampoo to remove chlorine, sea salt or contaminants. Use an ear cleaner and flush its eyes with sterile saline solution.
Turn in early. Do not be surprised if your pet is unusually tired after a day in the sun and water. Your probably will be, too! Get a good night's sleep, and take it easy the next day.
Source: AAHA's healthypet.com. Copyright 2010 American Animal Hospital Association. All Rights Reserves
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