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Guide to safe summer swimming with your dog: Be prepared

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Positive reinforcement can go a long way when teaching your dog to swim. Make sure you observe your dog closely at the water’s edge. Some dogs are thrown off by waves and it can take some getting used to. Be aware of any rip currents in the area. Planning ahead can prevent accidents and expensive vet bills in the future.

Secondly and most importantly be sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and medication to prevent fleas, ticks, ear mites, worms and all other parasites. The most important vaccination in regards to swimming is the Leptospirosis vaccine. It will protect your dog against the Leptospira bacteria that causes this infectious disease. Puddles, slow moving streams and other stagnant water can harbour the bacteria. Infected wildlife that your pet may encounter on a trip to the lake can also infect your pet.

Thirdly make sure your dog has proper identification- whether its tags or microchip- just in case the two of you get separated. It’s better to prepare for emergencies ahead of time and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Whenever you go anywhere with your dog you should always make sure you bring some food and a lot of clean water. Try to avoid letting your dog drink non-flowing or unclean water as much as possible. If your pooch eats a big meal try to avoid swimming for an hour- especially if you have a large, deep-chested dog. These dogs are prone to bloat. Make sure to give your dog breaks in the shade to recoup from all the activity.

A first aid kit it important as well- for both your safety and the safety of your dog. Always bring a towel for your pet and make sure you dry the dog’s ears very well so they don’t become infected. For dogs that can’t stay afloat on their own you can purchase a doggie life-preserver at most specialty pet supply stores. But it is also a good idea to own a life jacket for any dog and can benefit them on a boating trip or save their life in an emergency.

If you chose to swim with your dog in a natural water source it is important to avoid salt-water. Dogs can become sick from salt-intoxication. Only swim with your dog in fresh water just to be safe and don’t allow your pet to drink from the ocean. If they do swim in the ocean stay alert and always rinse them off well afterwards. Be aware of any snakes or aquatic creatures in the area that could pose a threat to your dog. Researching the marine life in the area doesn't take much time and it can also help you protect yourself.

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