If dog paddling is in your future, here's what you need to know.

February 18, 2021
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Playing in the water can be a great way for your pet to cool off. And it's true–there's hardly anything cuter than a cannonball game of fetch on a hot summer day. But before you head to the pool, river, beach, or lake this season, it's important to make sure you've got the right safety measures in place or your furry friend. Even though some dog breeds are natural born swimmers, many are not. And sure, your cat may instinctively avoid even the smallest splash of water, but you never know when his curiosity will overcome him. To keep your pets safe this pool season, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Water Safety Tips for Dogs

Teach your dog to swim.  

Enlist the help of a trainer or simply spend a few afternoons in the water with your furry friend. Start in shallow water and be sure to let him rest in between training swims. Give him enough support physically, encourage him verbally and with treats, and train him how to easily get out of the water.

Never leave your pup unsupervised.

Even if you've got a good swimmer on your hands, do not leave your pet unsupervised around deep water. This includes salty beach dogs and river hounds too. Don't let him swim out too far, especially when you're not hitting the water right by his side. Tides and currents can be very strong and change quickly.

Let him enter and exit the water on his own.

Dogs should be able to enter and exit a pool, lake, river, or ocean on his own. Never throw or force your dog into deep water. Always show your dog where the stairs or shallow exist is before entering the water so he can learn quickly how to get out.

Life vests and flotation devices are as practical as they are cute.

Canine life jackets and floats are a wonderful option for getting your dog used to the water, but they're more than just a training device. They're a must for any dog you may take on a boat, puppies, seniors, or short-leg, long-body breeds that inherently aren't strong swimmers. Be sure you purchase the correct size for your pup so it works properly.

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Don't let him drink from the pool or sea.

It may look like a big, enticing bowl of water to him, but he could ingest toxic chemicals, bacteria, or too much sodium from drinking from pool water, river water, or salt water. Be sure to provide accessible, fresh drinking water to keep him hydrated instead. Pop in an ice cube or two here and there to keep it cold on hot, sunny days.

Water alarms are worth the investment.

Ensure your dog's safety with an alert. Pet water alarms can be especially helpful for adventurous dogs who find their way into trouble while your back is turned. The right device will sound anytime your pet submerges for an added level of caution.  

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Don't forget to rinse and dry.

Rinse salt, sand, or pool chemicals off his coat when you're done swimming. Not only will this help keep his skin from getting irritated, but it will also prevent him from licking any bacteria or chemicals off of his coat long after your done with the water.

Water Safety Tips for Cats

While it seem comical to consider your cat diving into the water on purpose, pool safety for cats is no laughing matter. Even if your furry friend is an affectionate indoor cat, an ill-timed escape can quickly turn tragic if you've got a pool close by. Many of the same tips for dogs apply to cats too. Introducing your cat to the pool and trying to teach him how to swim is a good first step, and a water alarm is equally helpful for a feline. And just like their canine counterparts, pool chemicals can irritate their skin and shouldn't be ingested. Dry them off after any purposeful or accidental dips and be sure to keep fresh water available while poolside.