Safe swimming

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With all the hot weather we’ve had, I should have written this a little earlier in the year.

But, better late than never. I am sure we have plenty more hot temperatures on the way.

Most dogs enjoy cooling off in a pool or pond when it’s hot. But many could benefit from swimming or safety lessons.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs can, in fact, drown. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury and death to humans in the United States. Every day, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. There isn’t an equivalent government agency to compile statistics, but various groups have collected some relevant data.

One pet products company estimates that the odds of a pet drowning are 1 in 1028.

Even pool maintenance professionals have stories of entering clients’ homes, only to discover a dog clinging to life on the edge of the pool, or worse.

Lesson learned:

Many dogs benefit from a swimming lesson or two. A common misconception is that all dogs can “dog paddle” and keep themselves afloat in the water. Inexperienced (or panicked) swimmers often concentrate their efforts on the front legs, forgetting to fire up the back end. Front-end-only swimming is rather ineffective, and uses a tremendous amount of energy. As a result, dogs end up near-vertical in the water, with lots of splashing.

Getting in the pool or lake with the dog and supporting his back end as he swims a short distance is often a great way to prompt him to begin effectively using his back legs.

Using a dog life jacket to help keep him afloat can help anxious swimmers relax enough to paddle with all four legs.

Just say ‘no’ to floating pool covers. Floating covers are extremely dangerous in homes with children and pets. Countless dogs, and even accomplished swimmers, have lost their lives following an unexpected tumble into a covered pool.

I would also suggest that anytime you take your dog on a boat, put a life vest on the pet even if it is a good swimmer.

What you can do:

Teach your dog a proper swimming technique and make sure he knows how to safely exit the backyard pool.

Learn the signs of heatstroke, which can occur even when enjoying water play.

Have an emergency plan, which includes knowing the location of the nearest emergency vet, and CPR for both pets and people.

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