Not all dogs can swim
By Beth Crosby
A billboard along I-77 says “Pool rules: Let the dog in the pool.” It should come with a disclaimer as large as the sign that says IF the dog can swim and IF it has adult supervision.
Pet owners and trainers share their stories of why they live with the painful consequences of dogs that couldn’t swim.
A pet parent discovered that her small dog had gotten out of the house and into the pool while she was gone. When she couldn’t find the dog anywhere, she looked outside. She went to the pool and found her beloved pet at the bottom! (I will give you a moment to catch your breath before I go on to a less extreme, but still terrible, example.)
An experienced dog trainer responded to clients who bought a new home when the owners found their well-trained German shepherds struggling to get out of the pool. The dogs had never been trained to swim because the family didn’t have a pool. When the trainer arrived, the two dogs’ paws were bloody from trying to pull themselves up onto the cement edge of the pool. They had to be trained to swim to the shallow end and climb up the steps.
The myth that all dogs can swim and doggie paddle is sadly unfounded.
Other dangers arise
Aside from the trauma that can come from a pet that can’t swim, consider the effects of chlorine or salt water on your skin and hair. You become itchy and feel sticky or dirty. A dog will feel the same way. And sticky fur can cause the pet to feel even warmer on hot summer days.
Last, consider how your stomach responds when you swallow chlorine or salt water. You want to vomit or feel bad for several hours. Your dog responds the same way and is much more likely to ingest water than you are simply because its mouth is along the water line when it swims.
Swimming is good for dogs. Our Labs love to swim, as do many breeds. But for the sake of your beloved pets, always supervise, teach them to swim if they can’t, and consider using a flotation device or life-saver for your pup.