Taking your dog to a local lake can be a great way to help him cool off on a hot summer day. And, after our bitter cold winter, nothing feels better than a dip in Lake Superior or Big Lake! Many dogs are natural swimmers, and you might be surprised at how quickly your pup takes to the water. Unfortunately, the water can also pose many potential threats to your furry friend’s health, so it’s important that you do everything you can to keep your dog safe. Here are a few tips to keep Fido happy and healthy when he goes for a dip.

Ease Your Dog in Slowly:

Many dogs are able to teach themselves how to swim on their own, but you will have no way of knowing how your pup is going to do in the water until you take her out for the first time. Rather than throwing Fluffy into the pool and hoping she will figure out how to stay afloat, you should ease your dog into the water and keep a close eye on her as she tries to figure out how to swim. Remember that some dogs simply don’t like the water, so you shouldn’t try to make your pup do something that makes her uncomfortable.

Supervise Swimming Pets at All Times:

Even if Rover is an experienced swimmer, you shouldn’t think that you can let him romp in the water without supervision. Dogs can get distracted or overzealous and swim out too far, and your pup may find himself struggling to stay afloat. You may even decide that it’s best to keep your dog on some sort of long leash or rope at all times when he’s in the water so that you have something to pull on if your pal runs into trouble.

Use a Life Jacket:

While many clothing items for dogs are designed for fashion rather than function, canine life jackets can be true lifesavers. If your pup gets a muscle cramp while swimming or ventures out too far, she might not be able to keep her head above water, and you could quickly have an emergency on your hands. By outfitting Lassie with a life jacket, however, you will know that she can’t get fully submerged and will be much safer in the water. As an added bonus, most doggy life jackets make adorable accessories.

Beware of Overheating:

It may seem counterintuitive to worry about heat when your dog is in the water cooling off, but you need to make sure your pup doesn’t overheat while relaxing on the beach or on your boat in between swims. The sun tends to shine more intensely when you’re near large bodies of water, so you need to keep your dog well hydrated and spend a decent amount of time in the shade in order to prevent heat exhaustion.

Try to Curb Drinking:

Most of the water that your pup will go swimming in isn’t suitable for consumption. The water in swimming pools, for instance, has chlorine and other chemicals, and lake, stream, or pond water may contain blue green algae, or be a source along the water’s edge for leptospirosis. Ideally, you want to do everything you can to keep your dog from drinking the water while he swims. Bring plenty of fresh water along with you, and give it to your dog in a bowl before he takes a dip. You probably won’t be able to keep your pup from swallowing water altogether, but you can at least ensure that he’s not thirsty while swimming.

Wash and Dry Your Pup:

Depending where you take your canine pal for a swim, she is likely to get covered in dirt, bacteria, and/or chemicals. Once your pup is done swimming, you should spray her down with a hose or give her a quick bath in order to remove the contaminants she’s collected. You should also thoroughly dry your dog’s face and ears after she gets out of the water in order to decrease her chances of developing any infections.

The water offers a wide range of playtime possibilities that your dog will have never experienced on land. As long as you heed these safety tips, there’s no reason why you and your pup shouldn’t enjoy a fun day of swimming! Should you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health, or notice itching, or suspected infections after swimming, please call our Cloquet Animal Hospital team to set up an appointment: (218) 879-9280

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