While we’ve looked at many facets of safety and drowning prevention for humans, we have yet to consider our furry friends! It may surprise you to learn that approximately 5,000 pets drown in backyard swimming pools each year. Like general drowning prevention, education and precautions can combine to help keep every member of your family safe this season — whether they have 2 or 4 paws.
Supervise Pool Activities
Regardless of how pool-savvy your dog seems to be, you should establish a supervisory role to ensure that safety is achieved. What are you watching for? Be sure to notice any signs of fatigue, such as the rear end of your dog sinking lower into the water while swimming. Sometimes a tired dog will appear wide-eyed and over-stimulated. If you notice these kinds of behaviors that can indicate tiredness, be sure to get your dog out of the water.
Another issue you’ll want to watch out for is overheating. You can prevent the greatest risk of this by making sure your pets avoid direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. Just like on land, dogs cannot disperse the heat from their bodies in any way other than panting.
Just as humans can still become dehydrated when immersed in water, dogs can still overheat. To check for signs of overheating, check the tongue and gums and compare the coloring to that of your dog at rest. If the color is a darker pink, you’ll want to play it safe by taking a break. Severe overheating can take the form of heat stroke, which can be seen in behaviors including excessive drooling, staggering, and overall activity indicative of intoxication.
Consider Swimming Lessons
Did you know that not all dogs naturally know how to swim? Before you make that potentially tragic assumption, you want to make sure that your dog can swim. As is the case with humans, some dogs are more agile than others; for dogs, breed plays a key role. If your dog is a corgi, basset hound, or bulldog, it probably has a broad chest and short legs that make swimming difficult; the same is true of muscular dogs.
A swimming lesson can include using a life jacket to improve your dog’s buoyancy. To further offer confidence and support, enter the pool with your dog and be sure to support your dog’s back end for a short swim. Doing this will help teach your dog to use the back legs to propel the body through the water, allowing for staying afloat.
In addition to supervising your dog carefully in the water and looking out for signs of fatigue and overheating and then checking and helping improve swimming skills, your pet-protection plan for drowning prevention should also include purchasing safety products, a plan for exiting the pool, and preparation for providing a rescue.
Continue reading with Part 2.
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