Safe pooch paddling

Gloria J. Towle, Special to The County
6 years ago

During these long hot days of summer, to some of us, there is nothing better than cooling off by taking a dip in the pool or lake.  Many dog owners know that this is a simple pleasure for our pets as well. With so many days reaching well into the 80’s, a cool water romp is always welcome.

A previous board member, Liz, shared that her youngest dog is a Mini Aussie and she has always loved to swim.  She is a persistent retriever of Frisbees and sticks on land and even more so when you throw them into the water.   One summer, however, we became a bit concerned about her doggedness. If an item was thrown into the lake and she lost sight of it, she would continue to swim and swim until she found it.  During these moments it was very difficult for us to get her attention and often we would have to wade out to bring her back to shore. She simply didn’t know when to let something go.

Liz decided that her little girl needed a life jacket.  For about $40 they purchased a life jacket from Petco and it was the best purchase they could have made for their dog.  Liz said “she can swim faster, farther and with less effort than ever before. She loves the jacket and now associates it with swimming and better yet, she is much safer”.

While researching how to fit and the best design for our dog we found that there was a lot more to consider regarding dog water safety than just the life vest.  If your dog loves water or if you are thinking about introducing your dog to water, in addition to purchasing a life jacket, please consider the following safety advice:

  1. Do not leave pets unsupervised in or around water.  Not all dogs are good swimmers. A backyard sprinkler might be just as refreshing for your pet.
  2. If it’s not safe for people, it’s not safe for animals.  If a lake or beach is posted “Do not swim” or “Closed”, heed the warning for your pets as well.
  3. Make sure the water is clean.  Some lakes and ponds may contain contaminants that will harm your pup through skin exposure or ingestion.  Try to avoid water that is discolored, smells bad or is near industrial or agricultural areas where runoff may be present.
  4. Water temperature: If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog.  Cold water can quickly lower your dog’s body temperature and cause cramping or hypothermia.  Just the opposite is true in extreme heat; if it’s too hot, heat stroke is possible even if your dog is swimming.
  5. Keep fresh drinking water available.  You might think that the lake is perfectly fine but there is no way to know what harmful bacteria or chemicals could be in the body of water.
  6. Always use a life vest when boating and be sure to keep your dog on a leash or in a crate when the boat is moving.  Even though they are cute riding at the front of the boat, they can easily fall out and become injured or drown.
  7. End the day with a good bath.  This will wash away any contaminants, chemicals or sea salt if swimming in the ocean.

Do not be surprised if your dog sleeps longer than normal or appears to be a little sore after a long day in the water.  Swimming is hard work and your dog just needs a little quiet time to recoup.

Summer is the perfect time to adopt a dog.  Visit the Central Aroostook Humane Society located at 24 Cross St. in Presque Isle to find your next lovable four-legged companion.   We are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closed for lunch 12 to 12:30. Please be responsible, spay and neuter your pets.

“In the beginning, God created man, but seeing him so feeble, He gave him the cat.” (Warren Eckstein)

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.