Most dogs love the water.
At least that is what is assumed. Seeing a golden retriever splashing into the water to fetch his or her toy is one of summer’s iconic images. But not every dog knows how to swim. Dogs can and do drown.
Nationwide Insurance estimates that thousands of pets die in drownings each year. EsafetyAlert estimates 5,000 pet drownings annually. Actual numbers are unknown as most drowning incidents go unreported. Brevard County has many homes with pools, and the beach is readily available. Boating is a favorite local pastime. It is up to pet owners to protect their dogs from the dangers of water and the possibility of drowning.
Teaching a Dog to Swim
Just like people, some dogs need to be taught how to swim. The idea that all dogs can “doggie paddle” and keep afloat is a common misconception. Dogs should not be thrown into the water for their first lesson. Those that are inexperienced swimmers may not realize that they will need to use both front and hind legs to propel themselves through the water. Using only the front legs in an attempt to stay afloat will tire the dog out and can lead to panic.
Swim lesson for dogs can be taught in a pool or other calm body of water. Help the dog swim a short distance by supporting them as they get used to using all four legs. A harness will give the instructor something to hold on to as the dog practices their strokes.
Some dogs will never be great swimmers no matter how many lessons they are given. Dogs with short arms and legs (Corgis, Dachshunds, Pugs, etc.) will have a difficult time keeping themselves afloat.
Dog Life Preservers
Dog life jackets are handy for dogs that cannot learn to swim. Mature, sick, or injured dogs that may tire out quickly from the effort of swimming will also benefit from a well-fitting vest. A bright colored life jacket with a handle is perfect for keeping your dog safe around water.
Taking a dog to the beach, like Canova Beach Park in Indian Harbour Beach, is a great activity for their exercise. It is also a great place to use a flotation vest to keep track of the dog and to keep them afloat if they haven’t learned to swim in the ocean.
Boating in Brevard County is a popular family activity. Many people love taking their dogs on the boat. Their owners should ensure that the dogs are protected with a life preserver. Life preservers not only keep the dog afloat, but it also makes them easy to spot if they jump or fall in. It also gives their owner something to grab on to in the event they need to be pulled out of the water.
Pool Safety for Dogs
Brevard County has numerous homes and communities with pools. When their owners are outside enjoying the pool, dogs are equally excited to join in the fun.
Some dogs might be eager to jump in the pool, but they need to be trained on how to get themselves back out. This is especially important if the dog finds itself in the pool with nobody watching. It doesn’t take long for a dog to start panicking and tire itself out, trying to find its way out of the pool.
Many pools are equipped with ramps and stairs in the shallow end. The dog should be trained to utilize these exits when they are swimming. Dogs should not be taught to claw or crawl their way out of the pool’s edge. This is dangerous for them if they are tired of swimming and end up having trouble getting out.
For dogs that cannot swim, and even those that can, installing a pet fence around the pool could be worth investing in. These fences are typically meshed, allowing the homeowner to enjoy the view of the pool but keep out unwanted pets and other animals. In Brevard County, look to a company like Protect a Child Pool Fence Company to install a safety barrier for your dog.
Finally, pet owners with pools should avoid floating covers. Dogs may not be aware that they are not stable. Walking on top of, or slipping beneath, can be disorienting and cause a dog to drown.
Beach and Lake Safety
Lakes and beaches have dangers that dogs are not aware of when they are playing. In many lakes, there is a possibility of danger hidden just beneath the surface of the water. Without knowing it, a dog could jump into the water and injure itself on submerged rocks, trees, or other obstacles that aren’t readily seen above the water. And let’s not forget the ever-present Florida alligators lurking around. If one gets ahold of your precious pup, I’m afraid it won’t end well.
Boat docks might have fishing nets they could get entangled in or fishing hooks they could step on. Carefully inspecting the shoreline and docks is a good idea before unleashing a dog.
Ocean waves are always a concern. Dogs may give chase to a toy thrown in the waves, but if the undertow is too strong, they may find themselves carried further out. It is always a good idea to keep a training harness on a dog that is playing in the ocean. If the dog does get carried too far out by the waves, then it will give the parent, or lifeguard, something to grab when assisting the dog back to shore.
Preventing pet drownings in Brevard County is a priority for Space Coast Pet Services this summer. Our team of professionals want your dogs to have fun in the water but protected from harm! We can help find a trainer to teach your dog how to swim. Please contact us if we can assist you in keeping your dog safe around the water this summer.
After traveling the world as a ‘military brat’, Melanie settled in Brevard County, FL in 2013. She is the mother of 2 amazing children and 2 adorable pups. She volunteers at her children’s elementary school, Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds (HART) and served on the Committee of her son’s Cub Scout Pack. When not being a Mom Taxi between hockey practices, Cub Scouts, fire stations, horse riding lessons and various school activities, she enjoys reading, swimming, hiking in the mountains and traveling. (And naps!)