Dive Into Safety: Water Safety Tips for Pets

As the summer sun blazes and temperatures soar, many of us eagerly dive into refreshing pools, lakes, and rivers. But, while you may find relief in the cool water, remember that your furry friend needs help staying safe around aquatic environments. Ensuring your pet’s safety around water involves more than keeping an eye on them—you need to understand their abilities, provide the right gear, and know the risks associated with different water settings.

Understanding your pet’s swimming abilities

Not all pets are natural swimmers and their swimming abilities can vary greatly. Breeds like Labrador retrievers and spaniels tend to be strong swimmers, while bulldogs and pugs may struggle because of their body structure.

Before letting your pet dive in, assess their swimming skills in a controlled environment. Start in shallow water and gradually increase the depth as they become more comfortable. Regardless of your pet’s swimming prowess, always watch them closely when they are in or near water, as even experienced swimmers can become tired or encounter difficulties.

Gearing up for pet water safety

To help ensure your pet’s water safety, the right gear can make all the difference. Pet life jackets are an important piece of equipment specifically designed to keep your pet buoyant and safe, particularly those who are not strong swimmers or are new to water activities. Ensure the life jacket fits snugly but comfortably and allows them to move freely without slippage or restriction. Look for brightly colored or reflective jackets with a handle on the back, so you can easily spot your furry pal and pull them out of the water, if necessary.

In addition to life jackets, floating toys are a valuable water safety tool that not only entertain, but also help to keep your pet in designated safe areas. Avoid toys that can sink or become waterlogged, which can pose a drowning risk.

A pet-friendly ramp or steps for pools are also important. Teaching your pet to use these can help them exit the water easily and safely, reducing the risk of panic or drowning if they become tired or disoriented.

Keeping your pet safe around swimming pools

Pools may seem safer than natural water bodies, but they have their own set of hazards. Ensure your pet’s health and safety by:

  • Putting up a fence — Install a fence around your pool to prevent unsupervised access. Pets can fall in and panic, leading to dangerous situations.
  • Teaching exit strategies — Teach your pet how to exit the pool using the steps or a pet-friendly ramp. Practice this regularly, so they are familiar with the escape routes.
  • Understanding chemicals — Be mindful of pool chemicals. Rinse your pet with fresh water after swimming to remove chlorine and other harmful substances.
Keeping your pet safe around natural bodies of water

Natural bodies of water come with their own unique challenges for pets, including:

  • Currents and tides — Be aware of currents in rivers and tides in the ocean. Even strong swimmers can be overpowered by a strong current or riptide.
  • Water quality — Ensure the water is clean and free from harmful bacteria or algae, such as blue-green algae, which can be toxic to pets.
  • Wildlife — Watch out for wildlife, such as jellyfish, snakes, or aggressive fish, which can threaten your pet.
Recognizing distress in pets in the water

Knowing distress signs and how to respond can save your pet’s life. Signs include:

  • Labored breathing — If your pet is struggling to breathe or panting excessively, get them out of the water immediately.
  • Uncoordinated movements — Disorientation or difficulty swimming can indicate fatigue or panic.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea — If your pet develops gastrointestinal issues, they may have ingested harmful water or chemicals.

Water activities with your pet are an enjoyable way to exercise together and strengthen your bond, but you must take precautions and be prepared for problems. Have fun and be safe while making a splash this summer! However, if your pet has a dangerous water experience, contact your AAHA-accredited veterinarian for help.


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