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Guide to safe summer swimming with your dog: Testing the water

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Summer is finally here and pet parents are getting excited for some fun in the sun with their canine companions. When the weather gets hot you may be tempted to take a dip with the dog. Before taking the plunge make sure you know these essential safety rules- and know your pet.

Swimming and other water play with a dog can be a bonding experience for you both. It can also keep both you and your dog in shape and provide relief from the hot summer sun. Whether you go to a swimming destination or are just swimming in the backyard pool it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Start with the basics. First you must determine that your dog is physically capable of swimming. If you have any worries or doubts about your pets swimming capabilities it is best to consult your veterinarian. It is not recommended that you take a puppy under 18 months out for this type of activity. Senior dogs should be observed closely as they may have health issues that will make it more difficult for them to enjoy the water. If you are really unsure test your dog in the bath tub, kiddie pool or any other controlled area to see how it reacts.

Slowly introduce the dog to water. Some dogs will only paddle with their front legs which makes their rear end sink into the water. The dog will then become totally vertical and is at a higher risk of drowning. It is possible for a dog to drown. Short-legged and dense-bodied dogs such as Pugs and Bulldogs can’t swim because their bodies just aren’t designed to. Get to know your breed but don’t assume all dogs are the same. It is important to remember that all dogs are different and to never just assume that your dog can swim.

Allow your dog to get to know the water at its own pace. Never just toss a dog into the water- the sink or swim method does not work on dogs. Some dogs will be excited and curious about water and go in with little or no hesitation. Other dogs may not be so receptive to it and take longer to dive in. The best thing to do is to make sure that the experience is a fun one no matter what.

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