Health & Wellness
Swimming is an opportunity for dogs to cool off on a hot summer’s day — plus, it’s great exercise. You just want to make sure that your pet is comfortable in the water before letting them wade in (or full on belly flop) on their own.
Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, Dr. Aliya McCullough, shares how to safely introduce your pup to water so that they can take on pools, lakes and beaches in the warmer weather.
Before the swim training begins, Dr. McCullough recommends checking in with your vet about any conditions that may interfere with your pup’s doggy paddling. For example, your dog's breed, age (it's generally safe to introduce your dog to the water between 12 to 16 weeks) and activity level may impact their swimming ability. Dr. McCullough warns that not all dogs are cut out for swimming, so talking to your vet first before letting them take the plunge is essential.
If your veterinarian gives you the OK to start your dog’s swimming lessons, you may be interested in knowing how it benefits their health. “Swimming can be a good form of low-impact exercise that doesn’t place a lot of stress on joints,” Dr. McCullough says.
Once your pet is approved for swimming by their vet, here are some Dr. McCullough-backed ways to help them get comfortable in the water:
As for what not to do when introducing your dog to swim time, Dr. McCullough urges against:
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According to Dr. McCullough, some dog breeds are naturally built for swimming, like retrievers, setters, spaniels, standard poodles, Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs, German Shepherds and Schipperkes.
However, dogs with short snouts, like pugs and bulldogs, may struggle more. Dachshunds' short limbs can make swimming challenging, too.
Not all dogs enjoy swimming and that’s OK. If your dog resists getting into the water, don’t push them — their comfort is most important. You can always try other water activities, like playing fetch through a sprinkler.
Whether your pup is poolside, chilling by the lake or beach-bumming, these tips will help them feel comfortable swimming.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.
Photo by Chelsea Audibert on Unsplash