Water safety for dogs

29 Jan 2019

As we spend more time outdoors on warm days days, a swim in the ocean or pool is a great way to cool off. If your dog loves to swim, follow our tips to ensure your dog remains safe around water.

Swimming in the ocean

Just like us, dogs can face a whole range of dangers in the ocean. From jellyfish to strong rips, be aware of the water conditions before letting your dog swim. If there is advice recommending people don’t swim, for example from lifesavers, ensure you keep your dog out of the water as well. Stingers and jellyfish are an issue from October to May in the northern states of Australia, so take care when letting your dog swim during those months.

Watch out for crocodiles in the northern states too, unfortunately, many dogs have been taken by crocodiles whilst playing by the water’s edge. Keep an eye on your dog if they’re off-leash on the beach, as they can quickly become overheated running around out of the water and the sand can burn their paws as well.

Provide them with a source of shade. If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot on the sand, it’s too hot for your dog too. Make sure you pack plenty of fresh water and a bowl or collapsible container for your dog when you visit the beach, as they will still need to drink and rehydrate.

Boat safety

Before setting off with your boat, ensure your dog is comfortable standing up and moving around a moored or dry-docked boat. Some dogs can experience motion sickness like humans, so if you think your pet suffers from motion sickness, visit your veterinarian beforehand to discuss treatment options.

When your dog is comfortable being on your boat, ensure you secure them to the boat with a harness before setting off, to prevent them from falling off.

Pack plenty of water and a bowl for your dog, and provide them with access to shade. Ensure you have a life-jacket for your dog and put it on them before setting off, particularly if you will be using a kayak, stand-up paddleboard or canoe. Although some dogs are strong swimmers, they will be much safer if they have a life-jacket.

Swimming in the pool

Don’t let your dog swim in the pool unsupervised. Just like with children, you should be watching your dog swim to ensure you can lend a hand if they get tired or can’t get out. It’s worth familiarizing yourself with CPR for dogs and emergency responses to drowning.

Although most dogs have no issues swimming in the pool, some breeds have more difficulty swimming in general. Brachycephalic or ‘flat-faced’ breeds like British bulldogs, French bulldogs and Pugs can often struggle to swim due to their flattened faces and they are a real drowning risk as a result.

Other breeds that can have issues swimming include Corgis, Basset Hounds and Dachshunds due to their short legs, and Greyhounds due to their build. Older dogs and very young dogs might also have issues swimming, so play it safe if your dog fits any of these descriptions.

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