All Paws on Deck: Pet Safety and Your Pool

Summer sunshine means playing in the pool, but is it as good of an idea for your pooch as it is for you? Having a blast in and around your pool area can be distracting, which is inherently dangerous. Like children, pets need dedicated supervision, especially around the pool, and an afternoon of fun can easily end in tragedy. Many accidents are preventable simply by remaining aware of everyone in and around your swimming pool, including your favorite furry doggy paddlers!

However, vigilance alone will not keep your pets safe. There are a number of rules and precautions to heed to make sure everyone is staying safe while they splash.

Safety Tip #1: Exiting-the-pool Practice

The first thing you need to do to keep your pet safe around the pool is make sure he or she knows how to get out of the pool. Although many dogs and other animals can lift themselves out of the pool with ease, others need teaching. Still others just cannot get out of the pool without help. Age, obesity, and size are all factors that come into play. If your pool has steps leading down into it, train your dog to use the steps, and place a visual “landmark” near them so that even a panicked pup will remember where they are.

Ideally, your dog will never be around the pool while unsupervised, but if conditions were always ideal, there would not be accidents! If possible, install a fence or barrier robust enough to prevent your pets from taking an unauthorized dip, and maintain an awareness of exactly where your pet is when he or she is playing outdoors.

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Safety Tip #2: Swimming Certification

If your pet is new to swimming, take some time to help him or her become accustomed to the pool on a quiet day with no other distractions. Of course, your dog does not really need a swimming certificate, but it might surprise you to know that many animals need to learn to swim. Most people assume that all dogs are naturally strong swimmers, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only do some pups need practice to learn how to paddle effectively, but dogs can panic in the water just as people do, which can lead them to thrash ineffectively.

Let your dog practice swimming and other important skills, such as exiting the pool, until he is completely comfortable. The less likely he is to panic, the less likely he is to be hurt if he accidentally falls in.

Safety Tip #3: Water, Water Everywhere

It gets hot in the summer; you need to stay hydrated. The same goes for your canine companion. Unlike you, however, he cannot pop into the kitchen for a glass of juice or a can of soda to rehydrate. Also unlike you, he has no problem drinking out of the pool. This, obviously, is a very bad idea. Pool water is not for anyone’s consumption due to the necessary chemicals.

Make sure there is plenty of drinking water for your pup out by the pool. Have a generously sized water dish and make sure to keep it full of fresh, clean water.

Safety Tip #4: Check Your Pooch’s Paws

Racing around on hot concrete by the side of the pool can do a number on your pup’s paws, especially when they are soft and damp. When your furry friend is having the time of his life, he might not notice that the pads of his paws are taking abuse. Hot concrete, rocks, and pavement can even burn his feet! That means it is up to you to notice for him. You should also check to see that his nails are not wearing down too far down, as well. Encourage your dog to take breaks and rest or play in the grass to preserve his paws.

Safety Tip #5: Steer Clear of Floating Covers

Floating pool covers are not a good idea if you have pets or children. Even if your dog is a great swimmer, he can become trapped or entangled in a floating pool cover should he fall in or attempt to get in on his own.

Instead, opt for a safety cover that fastens down around all sides. When your pool is covered, do frequent checks on your cover to ensure it is anchored down and that there is no way for a child or animal to get under it. Also, make sure your pool cover does not have any tears that a child or animal could fall through.

And Always…

Be prepared in case, despite your best efforts, there is an accident. Make sure your dog is wearing a well-fitting harness with an easy-to-reach ring for his leash. If your dog panics, he may thrash around, making it difficult to get him to safety. A harness makes it much easier. You should also carry your regular vet’s number with you as well as a number for a nearby 24-hour emergency vet. If you are taking your dog to someone else’s pool in an unfamiliar area, check to see where the nearest animal emergency clinic is. For more, visit pHin.

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