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Preventing Pet Drownings and Water Safety in Washington, DC

Pet drownings are, sadly, all too common, not just in and around Washington, DC, but throughout the country.

There has long been a common misconception that dogs are naturally good swimmers, but the truth is, they are not! When dogs fall into the water, they instinctively tread water or doggie paddle, as it is commonly called, but that doesn’t mean they know how to swim.

Therefore, it is essential that pet parents properly introduce their dogs to the water and take all safety precautions to prevent drowning.

Obedience training goes a long way toward helping a dog learn water safety. A dog that is obedient on land will be obedient around lakes, pools, and other water bodies. So, be sure that your pup is adequately trained, across the board, before introducing them to the water.

Follow these water safety tips to ensure that your pet is happy and healthy, especially around the water.

Know Your Pet.

As we mentioned before, a dog’s instinct is to tread water. That is not necessarily true with all breeds. Some dog breeds are more well-suited for the water than others. Dog breeds that feature short snouts, such as Boston terriers, English bulldogs, and pugs, are not built for the water and should probably remain on dry land.

Older pets and pets with certain medical conditions are also more susceptible to accidental drowning. That can be especially tricky for dogs who were avid swimmers in the prime of their lives but these days have more trouble.

It is not only important for you to understand your dog’s relationship with water but that others in your pet’s life do as well, such as other family members, pet sitters, or anyone providing you with dog walking services.

Sometimes Pets Can’t Get Out of the Water.

While there is no doubt that many pets enjoy being in the water, in certain instances, dogs will confidently jump in only to find that they have difficulty getting out. That is especially true when it comes to backyard swimming pools. Thousands of pets drown in the family’s backyard pool every year, by some estimates.

If you have a backyard swimming pool, take some time to teach your dog how to exit the pool using the steps. Practice exiting together until the pup understands where the pool exits are and how to reach them. Some pet parents even install pet ramps as a safe, clear exit from the pool. Just like using the stairs, be sure that you walk the dog up and down the ramp a few times so that they understand its purpose.

Remember that accidents can happen, especially at night, when available exits may not be clear. Even if your dog becomes a strong, confident swimmer, as many do, you should never leave them unattended around water.

Be Prepared to Make an Emergency Rescue.

When an accident does happen, and you believe that your pet is drowning, you’ll need to spring to action. The tactics used to rescue a drowning pet are similar to saving a human, with slight differences.

First, if possible, lift your pet from the water by their hind legs to clear any water that might have entered their lungs. Once you have gotten your pet safely away from the water, lay them on their side, and check their breathing and heartbeat. If no signs of life are present, you should begin CPR.

CPR can work on pets the same way that it does on humans. That is why everyone should receive their CPR training. Not only can it help you save another person’s life, but it can save your pet’s life as well!

Above all else, water emergencies are serious and should be treated as medical emergencies. When a water emergency occurs, immediately get your pet out and get them to the vet.

Don’t Forget About Your Kitty.

Another common misconception about pets and water is that cats will always have a natural aversion to water. That is not necessarily true.

There is always the chance that one of your furry friends, including your cat, might fall or purposefully jump into the water. So, it always pays to be prepared. Check out this article that is specific to pool safety for cats.

Other Ways to Protect Against Pet Drowning

  • Never “throw” your pet into any body of water.

  • If you have a pool, ensure that it is properly fenced with a self-closing gate.

  • Even when your pet is safely enjoying the water, you should bring them out to rest at regular interviews. Swimming can be tiring, and a pooped pup is at a greater risk of drowning.

  • Invest in a life vest for your pet. Pet life vests save lives, and they’re also super cute.

Other Water Safety and Health Tips

  • ·Never let your pet drink the water where they swim. Natural water bodies, such as rivers and lakes, can contain bacteria and parasites, pool water contains harmful chemicals, and seawater is salty. When swimming with your pet, always keep fresh water available.

  • Always rinse your pet after a swim to prevent dry skin.

  • Always dry your dog’s ears after a swim to help prevent infection.

Water Safety Takeaways

Our pets are like our children. We certainly want them to explore and enjoy all that life offers, including having fun in the great outdoors and enjoying a swim.

Sometimes, we humans forget that pets need the same care and attention as a child would for water safety. That’s why we must take the time necessary to train our pets to be safe in and around the water, take all safety precautions necessary, and always be sure that our pet is in the care of someone we trust when we cannot be there for them.

When spending time with our pets in and around the water, we must always use common sense. In the end, it could save their life.


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