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Fun in the Water

Garden State Veterinary Specialists

The summer season provides a great opportunity for you to share some quality time with your pets outside. Many dogs love the water, but despite what you may have seen in the movies, cats do not particularly enjoy it. Another common misconception is that all dogs can swim. If you are introducing your dog to the water for the first time, certain precautions should be taken. Breeds with short legs, thick body shapes and no tail can find it difficult to stay afloat; older or overweight pets may tire easily. Canines with a flat nose will find it harder to breathe while in the water. Gradually introduce your pet to the water to ensure that they can swim and be prepared to assist them if they run into trouble. Teaching your pet how to get out of the water safely can avoid a tragedy should they fall into the pool accidently. 

Dogs are also susceptible to infections from bacteria and microorganisms through skin exposure to or ingestion of contaminated water. If the water is not safe for you to swim in, then it is not safe for your pet. If you would wear a life jacket because the water is too deep to touch bottom, it would be wise to put one on your pet as well. A properly fitted life vest is especially important in the ocean since your pet can be pulled under by a strong current or riptide. The temperature of the water and the length of exposure should also be considered since cold water could lead to hypothermia. 

After a swim in the ocean or even the pool, it is important to give your dog a bath with a mild shampoo. Chlorine, sea salt and other contaminants should be removed from their coat and skin. Don’t forget to rinse and dry the ears and flush their eyes to prevent irritation and infection. Providing your dog with fresh drinking water is also important. If you encourage your pet to drink water from a fresh water supply, they will be less likely to drink water that is harmful to them. While pool water is not toxic to your pet, drinking an excessive amount of the water can cause gastrointestinal upset. 

Finally, your veterinarian is the best source of advice about your pet and any special considerations that you should keep in mind to protect them during water recreation activities. Your primary veterinarian will be able to advise you as to any vaccinations your pet may also need to protect them against water-borne diseases. 

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian. 

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