Dog drowning is a serious concern and something that all dog owners should understand. Just because your dog can swim, doesn’t mean that he’s immune to the possibility of drowning. There’s several factors that can put your dog at risk and some important steps you can take to avoid a tragic event such as drowning from happening. For starters, it’s good to understand your dog’s swimming abilities – if you have a pool, be sure to practice with your pet and make sure he’s familiar with the layout of the pool.
Another thing to keep in mind is your dog’s breed. Some breed’s swimming abilities are better than other which is something that should be considered. Bulldogs for example are notoriously poor swimmers, on the other hand, there are many dog breeds that love the water including Water Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers who typically enjoy swimming and splashing around.
Here are some measures you can take to prevent water accidents, what to do if your dog does fall into a body of water and any necessary steps to ensure recovery.
Pets are at higher risk of drowning during the warmer months with so many activities surrounding water, but water accidents can even happen in the winter. It’s important to be extra cautious when walking on a frozen pond or lake with your dog. And any time of the year, if you’re on the beach and there’s high surf or rip currents, proceed with caution when letting your dog go for a swim. If it’s conditions that you wouldn’t feel comfortable swimming in yourself, keep your dog away from the water. It’s easy for him to get carried away from shore and tire out when trying to swim back.
One of the most dangerous areas for dogs is swimming pools. Whether you have a pool or bring your pup along to a pool party, be extra careful and keep an eye on him just as you would a small child. Accidents can happen and they happen quickly. Even if your dog knows how to swim, he can accidentally fall into the pool and begin to panic when he can’t get up the sides or touch the bottom. It’s this panic that can cause drowning.
So, how can you be prepared and prevent such an accident from happening? Whether your planning a boat excursion, a day at the pool, or a walk on the beach these tips will help to keep your pup safe:
- Teach your dog to swim (don’t assume that he can swim)
- Practice swimming (gage his capabilities in the water)
- Invest in a dog life vest (put the vest on your dog, especially if you’re going to be at the beach, on a boat, or by a pool)
- Install a pet safety gate or pool alarm
- Keep him away from unattended pools (like wandering into a neighbor’s yard)
- Be extra cautious with puppies and elderly dogs
- Be careful when attempting to rescue your dog in rough waters (use something your dog can cling to and only enter the water yourself if it’s safe)
- Learn dog CPR
Seeking Veterinary Care & Treatment
If an accident occurs and your dog does suffer near drowning you’ll need to take immediate action. Be sure to get him to a safe area, dry him off, and keep him warm with some towels. Lay him on his side and pull his tongue forward. If he’s unresponsive, this is when your CPR training can be put to use. Even if your dog is acting fine, it’s always best to seek veterinary care after a near drowning accident. He’ll need a full check-up to ensure there’s no residual problems. Fluids can remain in his lungs and cause dry-drowning hours after the incident. If this happened in the ocean, dog’s can also get salt poisoning, which should also be considered as you seek medical care. Your vet may provide oxygen supplements or diuretics and monitor his blood pressure as well as electrolytes.
Now that you have the knowledge and understanding of what you can do to prevent dog drowning, it’s time for you to take action and plan ahead. Implement these tips that you’ve learned above to keep you dog safe and healthy. Evaluate your pool area and create as many layers of safety as possible. Something so simple as a doggie life jacket or learning CPR can help to save your dog’s life. Never leave your pup unattended near water.
Although most dogs can swim, he can still panic and drown. And as always, if your pet does experience a near drowning event, be sure to get him immediate medical attention. Getting him checked out by a professional is the only way you can verify that he’ll be okay.
- “Pool Safety Tips to Prevent Drowning for Pets and Children.” Pet HealthCare, 6 May 2014, www.pethealthcare.co.za/PetFriendly/Articles/pool-safety-tips-prevent-drowning-pets-and-children.
- Khuly, Patty. “Poolside Safety: Prevent Pet Drowning Deaths.” PetMD, 15 May 2015, www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted/2006/july/poolside-safety-prevent-pet-drowning-deaths-6591.
- “Dog Safety Guide for Near Drowning in Dogs.” PetMD, 5 Sept. 2018, www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/common-emergencies/e_dg_drowning.