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Pool Safety Tips for Dogs

It’s summertime, and that means warm weather is here, which means it’s time to go to the pool.  If you love to bring your dog with you everywhere you go (and who doesn’t?), you need to make sure that your pooch stays safe while you are swimming.  Here are some safety tips to keep in mind this summer at the poolside.

·    If you don’t know whether or not your dog can swim, don’t assume he actually can.  A lot of dogs can’t swim or can’t swim well.  Even those that can do not always enjoy it.  Many are much happier when they are not in the water.  If you have a short-legged breed, your dog is likely to have problems swimming.  When you bring your dog to the pool, make sure he is wearing a dog life jacket.  Canine life vests will ensure that your dog stays afloat even if he gets tired or cannot swim at all.  

·    Don’t leave your dog by the pool unattended, even if you know your dog can swim.  If a dog slips by the pool side and falls in, he may be injured and may have a hard time staying afloat.  It isn’t worth it to walk away for five minutes to get a drink only to come back and find your pooch in peril.

·    Keep your dog hydrated.  Pool water swallowed in small amounts won’t make your dog sick, but the chemicals still make the water dehydrating.  So have plenty of water on hand for your dog to drink.

·    Make sure your dog has shade.  Even on a day which isn’t overly hot, a dog can overheat if it is bright and you are outside for long enough.  Heat stroke is often sneaky and can be undetectable until it sets in.  If your dog starts panting excessively or shows redness in the tongue and gums or any other signs of weakness, you should get him to a vet.  A shady place to rest with a bowl of water while you are enjoying the pool will usually be enough to prevent heatstroke.  On very hot days, it is best to stay indoors with your dog.

·    Also be wary of sunburn and burnt pads, other heat-related hazards which dogs face during the summer time.  If you’re walking on hot asphalt, your dog can feel that heat through his pads, which aren’t much thicker than your own calluses.  The thinner your dog’s fur (and the lighter the color of the fur), the more easily your dog will get a sunburn.  Make sure your dog has somewhere to sit other than the hot pavement around a pool.  Shade will help to prevent sunburn, just like it helps to prevent heatstroke.  These are just more reasons though to avoid going out with your dog during the hottest hours of the day.

While there are hazards at the poolside, they are preventable if you use some common sense, don’t neglect your dog, and purchase a dog life vest.  Dog life jackets are inexpensive and are the best insurance you can buy against poolside accidents.  Most of them will run you $20-$50.  Make sure that you properly measure your dog and buy a jacket which fits well.  After you buy a dog life jacket and train your pet to wear it, take the time to give it a test run before you rely on it. 

Even if your dog is wearing a life jacket, don’t forget that there is no safety product which can replace your own care and attention.  Your dog should never, ever be left unsupervised near water.  Also consider swimming lessons for your pooch.  This is also not a guarantee, but it can certainly make a difference.  Your dog will feel safer and more confident around water, and you will probably find that the swimming pool and other water-based activities are less stressful for both of you. 

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