Swimming Safety Tips for Dogs

Summer is here and the area in and around Bend, Oregon, is full of swimming holes that are friendly to dogs. What better than to sneak off to the lake or river with your dog at your side and get some relief from the heat? Following are some tips for you and your dog to enjoy the water, stay safe and healthy, and enjoy the experience without worrying about something going wrong.

Don't Assume Your Dog Can Swim

You'd be forgiven for thinking that your dog naturally knows how to swim. Many dog breeds are born swimmers, but many are not. There are also exceptions to the rule in that water breeds don't like water and vice-versa. Before heading into the water for the first time, give your dog an introduction to the concept of wading, then take them into deeper waters for swimming. Don't hesitate to step in and show your dog how to paddle, and always keep an eye on their stress level and desire to figure out how to make swimming work for them.

Get a Life Vest for Your Dog

A life vest for a dog is insurance against something going wrong when swimming. Take your dog to the pet store and try on different vests for proper fit. Make sure the vest has enough straps for hand holds and D-rings for leash attachment. Always put the vest on your dog prior to swimming no matter where you go. The vest makes it easier for you to retain control and allows you to grab your dog out of the water without a struggle.

Clean and Dry Your Dog's Ears After Swimming

Dogs can get bacterial infections in their ear canals that cause discomfort, itching, redness and a foul odor. Start with a towel and hold up your dog's ear flap so you can easily see inside the ear canal. Press the towel against the ear and let the towel draw up moisture. Don't scrub or rub with the towel as this can cause debris to go further into the ear canal. Your dog will shake their head vigorously afterwards and the action will push out the rest of the water and debris. You can also get a special ear cleaner from your veterinarian to help with preventing an infection.

Take a Pet First Aid and CPR Course

Talk to your veterinarian about learning first aid and CPR for your dog. It's a good idea for pet owners to learn these skills, and your vet clinic might offer a class or know where they're held. Being able to provide CPR or first aid to a dog in distress can make a major difference in the outcome after an adverse event.

Be Aware of Waterborne Parasites, Bacteria and Algae

There's a general rule of thumb when it comes to letting your dog swim in water: If you won't swim in it, neither should your dog. However, even clean waters can be home to giardia, leptospirosis and algae blooms. These issues can cause everything from skin irritation to serious illness in dogs. Contact our vet clinic to learn more about what lurks in the waters around Bend. Our veterinarians can inform you on what's commonly found in the water and what steps to take if your dog gets infected.

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