Doggy Paddling – Water Safety for your Pups

Photo courtesy of Dr. Bridget Sheehan

Now that summer has officially kicked off, the dog beaches are filled with pups playing in the water. While your dog may be a pro swimmer, here are some tips to keep your furry family member safe in the surf.

  • Keep an eye out – Whether you’re at the Montrose or Belmont Harbor dog beaches or lounging by the pool, make sure you know where your dog is at all times. If your dog decides to dip into the water, keep them in your range of sight so you can step in to assist them if any issues arise.
  • Understand their limits – Most dogs have the innate ability to do some sort of paddle, other sink like a sack of potatoes in the water. According to Animal Planet, when it comes to swimming, dogs fall in to three different categories: “those that can swim, those that can be taught to swim and those that should steer clear of all aqueous environments.” Especially for the brachycephalic dogs (i.e. French bulldogs, pugs), due to their short snouts, they are top heavy and can easily become tired trying to stay afloat which may and then begin to sink. Recognize which category your dog falls into so they can make the most out of their water time while staying safe.
  • Rinse off – After your pup has finished frolicking in the water, it’s best to wash them off so any chlorine, salt or other residue does not stay on their fur. These substances can cause skin irritation or make them sick if they lick it off. Also, be alert for beach closures – per the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago beaches were closed 36 times last summer and swim advisories were issued an additional 134 times because of high bacteria count. If we shouldn’t be swimming in the water, neither should our pups!
  • Life jackets – If your dog loves being in and around water, having them wear a life jacket can save their life! Whether you take them on a boat or they are just swimming in a river or lake, a life jacket can keep them afloat in unexpected situations. Vetstreet has some great recommendations about what to look for in a life jacket for your furry family member.
  • Relax with a drink – Even though your pup may be exuding tons of energy and is having a lot of fun, make sure they take numerous breaks in a shady area. Lake, river, ocean, and pools are not safe for dogs to drink from since these bodies of water carry numerous bacteria, parasites, or chemicals. Always provide fresh drinking water for your dog during these down times.

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.