As we enter the dog days of summer, we all are looking for ways to beat the heat. Many of us find solace from the Atlanta summer at the pool or lake, so we hit the water for some fun in the sun. Of course, we want to bring our canine friends with us as well! If you choose to bring your dog swimming with you, just remember to put safety first! Consider canine life preservers and buoyancy devices. Dogs aren’t all born swimmers so don’t push. Let your dog have an enjoyable first experience. Ease your dog into swimming. Let your dog walk into the water first, rather than jump. Also show your dog where there is an easy way to walk out of the water. Keep distances short and take frequent breaks when swimming with dogs. Some dogs will go out too far, too quickly and then not have strength to get back. Consider a long leash, but don’t let anyone get tangled.
Be sensitive to your dog’s personal and breed predispositions. Lean bodied dogs lack fat to help them float. Water breeds may over exert themselves in their enthusiasm. Some dogs may not take to or like the water at all.
When your dog gets out of the water, wash him or her off thoroughly. Chlorine is irritating. Lake water and sea water can carry germs.
Before beginning swimming or any other fitness activity, have your vet examine your pet. Don’t try to get in shape over the weekend. Work up to reasonable goals. Your veterinarian can help you set those goals and personalize your pet’s swimming plan.
Having said all that, swimming can be great exercise for dogs. It builds endurance without pounding on the joints. Some veterinarians even prescribe water therapy in exercise pools especially designed for dogs.
So have fun, get fit and be safe!