Pet Safety Around the Water
Last month we had a great question regarding safety for dogs at the beach. As a follow up this month we will delve deeper into overall swimming and pool safety for our canine friends. Being aware of potential dangers and setting up for a fun experience will help make outdoor water activities an enjoyable time for all involved.
Can Your Dog Swim?
If your dog is a novice swimmer it is important to slowly introduce this new activity in order to create a positive and trusting experience. It can be quite terrifying for most animals to be suddenly pressured into learning how to swim. Never use the “throw them in” technique, as this will most assuredly cause fear of the water and mistrust in you.
Start by encouraging your pup to wade into shallow water, gradually increasing the depth until they begin to paddle. Be prepared to come to the rescue if needed as some are more natural at swimming than others.
What if my Dog Can’t Swim?
Even breeds designed to excel at swimming can behave more like a “rock” at first before they learn to keep afloat. There are many doggy life jackets on the market that can make it safer and let your dog feel more secure while learning. Use caution with these jackets especially in natural bodies of water, where they may get snagged on objects underwater.
When introducing your dog to a pool, one of the first things they should learn is where the steps are. Just like with children, drowning can be a risk, so always be present when your pet is around water.
Using positive reinforcement, encourage your dog to swim to the steps and be able to get out on their own. Their depth perception is different from ours and it is not obvious to them where the water is shallower. Only allow them near the water under supervision. It only takes a very small amount of time to have a serious accident.
Dogs and Wildlife
Florida’s warm environment attracts other critters to watery areas as well. Snakes are a common encounter in pools and in natural waterways. Some of the snakes we have here are venomous and can cause serious life-threatening injuries. If you ever suspect your pet has been bitten, get them to a veterinarian right away, do not wait for symptoms to occur. Avoid regions of ponds and lakes that have a lot of vegetation. These areas are a perfect hideout for snakes and alligators.
Florida’s Toxic Algae Blooms
The summer months bring heat, sunlight and nutrients that cause algae blooms. These can occur in fresh or marine water. Visibly, the toxic blooms are not able to be differentiated from the non-toxic algae, and the colors can vary. The Department of Environmental Conservation maintains an updated page on current toxic blooms to help you prevent exposure to water bodies with current blooms. Check this daily before heading out to any natural body of water with your dog.
Becoming informed about the likely risks of water activities can help make your summer safer. A safer time will mean a happier and more enjoyable time for you and your dog. Happy swimming!