Many dogs love to splash in the water on a hot summer day, but since not all dogs are natural swimmers, it’s up to you to keep your dog safe when she’s by the swimming pool, beach or lake. Depending upon your dog’s breed, age or health, a dip in the pool or leap off or a dock could be either a frolicking good time or a brush with death. In fact, over 5,000 dogs drown each year in backyard pools alone! To keep your dog safe this summer when she’s near the water, here are six “layers of protection” you can try:
1) Supervision – Animal experts agree that supervision and training are the best ways to keep your dog safe around water. Most dogs really do know how to do the “doggie paddle” and have the natural ability to float and swim. However, breeds with low body fat, smaller dogs with short legs and aging pets can have trouble. Always familiarize your dog with the layout of the pool or lake and make sure she knows where she can climb out safely. Overexertion caused by panic is number one cause of pet drownings.
2) Gate Alarm – Most communities have laws mandating pool fences that are at least 48 inches high. While these barriers are generally effective in keeping dogs out of the pool area, a dog can enter easily if someone leaves the gate open accidentally or the latch is broken. As a precaution, consider installing a gate alarm that will alert you if your dog passes through the gate. The alarm is triggered by a wireless transmitter that attaches securely to your dog’s collar or life jacket and sounds before your pet gets near the water and is at risk of drowning.
3) Water Safety Ramps – Pool steps can be difficult for dogs to see at night or practically invisible to a pet that is floundering in the water and has slipped beneath the water’s surface. Give your dog an easy way out by installing a specially-designed UV plastic ramp that mounts easily to the side of a pool or edge of a spa, dock, bulkhead or boat transom. These ramps, which come in two sizes, have proven to be effective escape route for wild animals that accidentally fall into the water as well.
4) Personal Immersion Alarm – The same wireless transmitter that triggers the gate alarm (see above) also interfaces with a pool alarm base station. If your dog slips or jumps into the pool or lake, an immediate alarm will sound. These devices work best in any kind of fresh or chlorinated water. They can also be used with salt water, but only in conjunction with a life jacket.
5) Life Jackets – More and more dog owners are outfitting their pets with life jackets, especially if the dog is a poor swimmer or riding on a boat. A life jacket will help your dog stay above the water until she can be rescued. Most jackets have a handle on the back to make it easy to lift the dog out of the water. Note that since the sizes and styles of animal life jackets vary greatly, it is recommended that you take your pet with you when shopping so you can be sure to get a good fit.
6) Safety Pool Cover – A curious dog or child can accidentally slip under the pool cover, disappear out-of-sight and drown in minutes. To protect pets and children from being trapped under the pool cover, a safety pool cover is recommended in the off-season or anytime your pool is not in use. These well-fitting, taut mesh or solid covers are anchored to the deck with straps and able to hold 485 pound per five square feet, per ASTM standards.
Enjoy the great outdoors this summer, but be sure to keep your dog safe when she’s around the water by following these guidelines for six “layers of protection.”