While many dogs are instinctive swimmers and master the doggie paddle at an early age, dogs of all shapes and sizes are increasingly participating in water sports with their humans.


Here are eight suggestions for keeping your canine safe while in and around the water:

1. Choose a water environment that matches your dog’s skill level. Dogs unfamiliar with the water should always wear a canine life jacket until they are more experienced and comfortable in the water.

2. Use a canine lifejacket. Fast-moving water, significant distances from shore, or cold-water temperatures can shock even the strongest swimmers.

3. Ensure the swimability of your dog life jacket. When choosing a canine flotation device, be sure your dog can move freely in it, that the jacket is sized correctly, and that it allows the dog to swim in a comfortable, horizontal position.

4. Know when playtime is over. Choking, gasping for air, and climbing on top of other swimmers are signs of a struggling dog. Do not pull on legs, collar, head, or tail to remove dog from water.

5. DO NOT AT ANY TIME secure your dog to watercraft with a leash or other device. Tying a dog to watercraft means almost certain death should the boat flip or sink.

6Prevent ear infections. Drying out your dog’s ears after he or she gets out of the water can prevent ear infections. Your vet can offer advice and potential solutions to prevent future ear infections.

7. Avoid hypothermia. Very young and very old dogs are more susceptible to hypothermia. Shivering, decreased heart rate, dilated pupils, pale or blue mucous membranes, stupor, unconsciousness, or coma are all signs of hypothermia.

8. Keep an eye out for hazards. Rocks, boats, fishing gear, and other manmade or natural obstacles can easily bog a dog down in the water, limiting their ability to swim.

2 thoughts

  1. I just found this story about an almost-drownng at: http://petprojectblog.com/archives/general/we-like-k-9-float-coat-by-ruffwear/

    It really gets me thinking about how important it is to arm our dogs with protection against swift water. Great story!

    “A few years back while fishing 40 miles offshore in Lake Superior we suddenly notice that my buddies lab Sal was missing. She had been sleeping in the cabin the last time we saw her. We looked for her aboard but it soon became apparent that she had gone over while we were busy landing fish. It was late June but the water temp was in the low 40s. Using the GPS we retraced out route to find Sal.

    Just by chance my friend had put Sals float coat on that we use for waterfowl fall hunting before we left the dock. She had got wet from chasing geese and was shaking.

    After search for two hours the winds began to build with waves running close to four feet. We had no choice but to head for shore. As we headed in we got a call on our radio that that another boat had just picked up a black lab. We met the boat at the dock and gladly got Sal back. She was not worse for wear.

    We feel that without the float coat she would not have survived. The cold water would have caused hypothermia and she would have drown. Just like in the fall and early winter the foam coat acted like a wet suit keeping Sal warm.

    Now when ever we have the dogs on the boat on big water they always have a float coat on.”

Leave a Reply