While you probably already assume that cats can’t swim, you may be surprised that not all dogs are born knowing how to thrive in water. In fact, both cats and dogs can struggle in the murky depths. However, take proper precautions and neither you nor your pet will have to worry about water safety.
Supervise Cats and Dogs Around Water
First off, never assume that a dog or cat will be fine near a pool, bathtub or other body of water. Always supervise animals if they will be near a lake or even a filled sink. This wisdom is true also at the beach since you never know if a riptide might happen.
When you fill up your pool or tub, scout your surroundings. There are a few questions you should be able to answer before you let your pet test the waters figuratively and literally:
- Where are the exits?
- How deep is the water?
- Are there tides or currents? How strong are they?
- Are there any underwater hazards, such as sharp coral or rocks?
- Is there anything toxic to pets in the water, like pond scum?
- Can you see your pet from where you are? Can you get to them quickly and easily to rescue them?
Outfit Your Pool
You don’t necessarily have to modify your pet’s behavior. You can also take extra precautions if you’re a pool owner. Dogs and cats might fall in or overestimate their swimming abilities. Try these safety measures:
- Fence your pool.
- Keep the fence gate locked at all times.
- Always keep your pets outside the fenced-in area, unless you are able to watch them.
- Outfit your pool with a special alarm that sounds if anything or anyone falls in.
- Provide pets with an easy way to exit the pool. Both stairs and a ramp work.
Teach Your Pets How to Swim
If you’re hoping to enjoy the water with your dog, it’s important to take it slowly. Not all dogs immediately jump in and swim like a pro. Before you even get in the water, train them to understand “stay” and “come.” These commands could save their life.
Put your dog in a properly fitting life jacket. It needs to be sized for your dogs size and weight. And choose one that is specially made for water with a current. Carry treats with you in case your dog can’t resist the siren song of swimming!
Once your dog is in the water, take things slowly. Start with very shallow water like a tub or baby pool and gradually upgrade to deeper water. Stay by their side in case they need to be quickly fished out. If they struggle to grasp the basics of swimming, wrap your arms around their tummy while they paddle. Afterward, show your pup how to get out of the water via climbing stairs or swimming towards the shore.