9 min read
How often have you caught yourself daydreaming about cooling off in a swimming pool this summer? To dive into its refreshing waters and escape the dust, heat and grime of the city? Professionals believe that our pets, much like us, need a break from their routine every now and then. One special treat to shake off the heaviness of the daily grind.
In the summer, the pool might be a great answer for both pets and parents. Whether your pup is a fish in the water or a nervous beginner, this article gives you a solid introduction to swimming for dogs.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Can dogs swim? Do they all enjoy it?
2. So what if your dog doesn’t like the water?
3. Introducing your pet to the water
4. 5 things to consider before your pet takes the plunge
4.1. Where can your dog swim?
4.3 When was their last meal?
4.4 Cleanliness and chlorination of the water
4.5 How long should dogs swim for?
5. Poolside safety for dogs
6. Benefits of swimming for dogs
7. Grooming post a swim session
8. Frequently Asked Questions
8.1 Can all dogs swim? Do they all enjoy it?
8.2 Can dogs swim immediately after meals?
8.3 Are there any safety measures I should take before letting my dog swim?
8.4 Are there any dog breeds that are known for their exceptional swimming abilities?
8.5 Are there any breeds that require special grooming or care after swimming?
Many of us believe that all dogs are natural swimmers, and that simply introducing them to water will trigger their swimming instincts. Unfortunately, this is not true for all dogs. While breeds like the Labrador Retriever take to the water more naturally than others because, historically, they’ve been bred to work in and around water, individual preferences can still vary even within the same breed. Some labs may not enjoy being in the water despite their breed's general inclination.
Several breeds are not physically built to be good in the water. For instance, the Doberman is swift, muscular and agile on land. But in the water their deep chests work against them. The back halves of their bodies tend to sink lower than the front making it difficult for them to achieve the horizontal position required to swim comfortably. The Chinese Crested breed of dog are often hairless and cannot tolerate cold temperatures.
Despite videos you may have seen on social media, French Bulldogs and Pugs don’t always enjoy the water. Usually they are comfortable with about 10-minute paddling sessions at a time. Preferably in shallow pools and with life vests because they are not strong swimmers. The additional fear with these breeds is the temperature around a pool. Usually there is little shade around a swimming pool or on a beach and overheating is a real concern. Heat strokes can be fatal.
Even if your dog doesn’t enjoy going into a big pool, they may like splashing around in a kiddy pool. Or walking along the beach and playing with the waves. It’s best not to force your dog to get into the water if they are showing resistance to it. Forcing them in may cause them to form a lifelong fear of the water.
It’s best to start small and gradually work your way up. Begin by introducing your pet a kiddy pool without water. If your pet doesn’t like the slipperiness of the base, line it with a non-slip mat. Reward him when he gets into the pool. Do this a few times so they understand it’s safe and associates getting into the pool with something positive.
The next step is to fill the pool with just about an inch of water (room temperature or lukewarm). If your pet is hesitant to get in, stand in the middle of the pool and encourage them to come to you. Toss treats or toys into the water for them to fetch. Get him used to this level of water and gradually increase it. The key is to really build your dog’s confidence in the water and not to push them more than they are comfortable with.
There are plenty of behaviourists you can contact for dog swimming lessons. Look for pet friendly pools in the city that you can visit.
Where can your dog swim?
Dogs have been known to swim in the ocean, seas, channels, in streams and even in lakes and ponds. But you have to consider what is suitable (and safe) for your dog. Usually, only strong and experienced swimmers do well in natural water bodies as there are currents and other elemental conditions to deal with.
Swimming pools are usually most accessible to pet parents living in the city. It also offers a controlled environment that prevents exposing pets to animals you may find in ponds, streams or the sea. In natural environments, you would also have to be careful about submerged rocks, algae and other unpredictable factors.
Hot tubs are not safe for dogs as they can overheat.
Choose a time when the sun has been out and warmed up the water to a comfortable temp. Or opt for a temperature-controlled pool. Ideally you don’t want it to be a very cold day or a very hot day. For that reason, it’s best to avoid going into the water in the afternoons, nights or early mornings.
When was their last meal?
Swimming immediately after meals puts your pet at risk for a condition called gastric dilation-volvulus (commonly called ‘bloat’) in which the stomachs twists. It can be very painful, affect their ability to swim and even be fatal if not addressed immediately. It’s best if dogs get into the water about 2 hours after their meals.
Cleanliness and chlorination of the water
It’s inevitable for dogs to swallow some water while swimming, which can increase the risk of diseases like Giardia. They shouldn’t drink too much chlorinated water so make sure they have access to a bowl of fresh water as well.
How long should dogs swim for?
About 10 minutes of swimming can be as tiring as a forty-minute run. Using this as a thumb rule, think about how long your pet can safely swim. Generally, brachycephalic breeds can swim for about 10-15 minutes. Senior dogs or those who are overweight can manage about 20-minute sessions. Even if your pet can swim for longer hours, it is advised that they go into the water for about 10 minutes at a time. Since dogs swallow water when they’re swimming, these ten minute sessions help prevent water toxicity. For the same reason, it’s best to throw small toys or discs into the water for them to fetch. This way your dog’s mouth is clamped tighter over the toy rather than kept open.
Dogs often don’t correctly gauge how much energy they have left to swim back to the edge of the pool. They happily paddle alongside their humans not taking into account how tired they are until they just don’t have the energy to go on. So it’s up to the pet parent to keep an eye on them. Safety equipment like a life jacket while swimming is a very good idea for dogs.
Swimming is often recommended for dogs with joint issues, dogs who are overweight or those who need rehab for orthopaedic or neurological issues. Swimming takes the weight off their joints as the water’s buoyancy supports the dog. It can also improve their range of motion as it gets them moving in a different way than when on the ground. Swimming is a form of mental stimulation and can be as refreshing for dogs as it is for humans.
Swimming in warm water has been known to aid recovery of dogs. It helps to strengthen their joints and muscles while also encouraging circulation in the body. Warm water can help relieve pain to a great extent.
First make sure your pet has fresh water to drink. Water can get into your dog’s ears when they’re in the water and this can result in ear infections. After the swim, ensure you clean out their ears with a prescribed solution and dry their ears well.
Pools are chlorinated and this can remove the natural oils on your pet’s coat. Give your pet a thorough rinse to wash off the chlorine. Very high levels of chlorine can also bleach coats so make sure the swimming pool you’re visiting has balanced chemicals. Use a dryer on your pet’s coat so there is no dampness or moisture left trapped in it. This can cause skin issues.
Even if your dog doesn’t take to swimming, he may enjoy poolside activities or playing under the sprinklers on a warm day. Let him show you what he prefers.
While some dogs are natural swimmers and enjoy being in the water, not all dogs have the same inclination. It depends on their breed, individual preferences, and past experiences. Some dogs may require more time and training to become comfortable in the water.
2. Can dogs swim immediately after meals?
It's advisable to wait at least 2 hours after your dog's meal before allowing them to swim. Swimming immediately after eating can put them at risk of a condition called gastric dilation-volvulus or "bloat," which can be painful and even fatal if not addressed promptly.
3. Are there any safety measures I should take before letting my dog swim?
Yes, it's important to prioritise safety when allowing your dog to swim. Some safety measures include supervising your dog at all times while swimming, providing them with a properly fitted life vest, ensuring they have access to fresh water to prevent dehydration, and making sure there's an easy exit point for them to climb out of the pool.
4. Are there any dog breeds that are known for their exceptional swimming abilities?
Yes, breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers are known for their exceptional swimming abilities. But not all Labs or Retrievers may like water or take to swimming.
5. Are there any breeds that require special grooming or care after swimming?
Breeds with dense coats, such as the Golden Retriever, may require special grooming and care after swimming to prevent matting and ensure proper coat health.
POSTED IN :
As a pet parent, I have always woken up to my dogs Luna and Max going to town scratching, licking...
“Puppies - our little bundle of joy, They’ll chew down everything in sight. Teet...