As the hot weather makes it way back into our lives, if you’re lucky enough to have a pool in your backyard you’re probably starting to think about opening it back up some time in the very near future. (We envy you.)
Of course, if you have a pet in your life—and specifically a dog who likes to hang out everywhere you go—you’ll need to take some precautions to ensure that your pooch stays safe when your pool is open for business.
Whether or not your dog knows how to swim, try following these doggie pool tips from Dr. Jules Benson, VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan pet insurance.
- Never leave your pet unattended near a pool. Dogs can easily slip and fall into the water, and unfortunately not all dogs are born swimmers. Even if you’re just running inside to refresh your drink, bring your furry friend with you to avoid any accidents.
- Don’t assume your dog can swim. It goes along with the above point, but it bears repeating—it’s not instinctive or easy for all dogs to swim. Breeds with shorter legs (think Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Corgis, etc.) are at a natural disadvantage, and muscular breeds that need to work harder to stay afloat can quickly become exhausted from their efforts. Even if your dog is a “water-loving” breed, like a Labrador, he still may prefer to keep his paws on solid ground. Test the waters by introducing your dog to the water’s shallowest end first, and consider a well-fitting life jacket as an additional safety measure.
- Consider other poolside hazards. Drowning isn’t the only danger to poolside pets. Heatstroke can afflict pets who stay high and dry, and can set in quickly. It doesn’t even need to be excessively hot – it can happen on an ordinary day, if conditions are right. Leaving a dog in the sun without adequate shade or water can lead to overheating – even on mild days. Short-nosed breeds like French Bulldogs, Pugs and Boxers are particularly prone, since panting (a dog’s natural method of cooling down) is more difficult for them. A dog's normal temperature is usually between 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and if it exceeds 105, coma, organ dysfunction and even permanent brain damage or death can occur. Make sure your pet has a shady place to relax, with a water bowl nearby. If you notice him showing signs of hyperthermia – distress, extreme panting, red tongue and gums, weakness and collapse — get him to the vet as soon as possible.
- Beware of pool water. Pool water – and the chemicals in it – is not good for dogs if consumed in excess. If they get a little in their mouths while swimming or steal a sip from a puddle, don’t worry – but always provide plenty of fresh water so your pet can stay safely hydrated.
Image: cynoclub / via Shutterstock