Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are natural-born swimmers, and even the best ones need training in the beginning. With the weather heating up, here are some tips to help dog owners teach their four-legged friends to be safe around the pool.
. Never leave your dog unsupervised while in the pool! He could need your help and be unable to bark to get your attention.
. Start off slowly. Even natural-born swimmers tend to be afraid the first time they go in the pool, so be sure to take it slowly in shallow water and praise your dog every step of the way. It's important to build confidence in your dog around the pool.
. Don't let your dog overdo it when swimming. Swimming is great exercise, but as with any workout, it should be increased in small increments. Your dog is using new muscles and may get tired quickly.
. Teach your dog to use the ladder. Using a ladder to exit the pool can be scary for your four-legged friend. Dogs are not used to utilizing the ladder and will need to be taught how to climb it.
. Rinse your dog off with fresh water after getting out of the pool to wash off chemicals.
. Dry the ears. Gently dab your dog's ears with a dry towel or use a blow dryer on the "cool" setting to get rid of excess moisture. Most ear infections in dogs with floppy ears are caused by too much water and dampness.
Other summer precautions
. Keep cool and hydrated. When temperatures rise, the hot weather can make your dog very uncomfortable, even leading to overheating and heatstroke. Supervise your dog outside in the heat and make sure he has access to shade. Also make sure there's always fresh water both indoors and out. If your dog does appear to be overheated, apply cool, wet cloths to the pads, belly and head.
. Don't leave your dog in a hot car. Never leave your dog alone inside a hot car, even with the windows open. On an 80-degree day, the inside of your car can reach 125 degrees very quickly.
. Don't treat your dog's paw pads like shoes. Contrary to what people may think, your dog's paw pads are not like shoes. Sidewalks and streets can become extremely hot, and even though paw pads are tougher than human feet, they can still get burned by hot pavement. Walk your dog on the grass during extreme heat to keep paws cool. Don't forget that hot sand can burn your dog's paw pads too, so try and take your walks early in the morning or later in the evening when it's cooler out.