Swimming safety tips for dogs

Dr. Lori Teller, a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, appeared on KPRC 2+ to share her recommendations for taking dogs swimming.

Dr. Lori Teller, a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, appeared on KPRC 2+ to share her recommendations for taking dogs swimming.

Swimming

Teller said the common belief that all dogs can swim is actually a myth.

“Most dogs will make a paddling motion when in the water, but some are not able to propel themselves forward or even keep their heads above water,” she said in a release.

In particular, brachycephalic dogs with large heads and flat faces, like pugs and bulldogs, tend to have the most trouble swimming.

“If your dog is not interested in swimming, don’t force it,” Teller said in the release. “Never toss your dog in the pool to make it swim. For dogs that want to get in the pool but cannot swim, or if you have a dog that may be at risk of drowning, use a doggie life jacket. If your dog falls in or can’t swim, this will allow your dog to float in the pool until it can be rescued.”

Swimming pools

Though the small amount of chlorine in swimming pools is usually not strong enough to harm dogs, Teller urges pet owners to provide their furry friends a bowl of fresh water for drinking. Teller also stressed that Chlorine tablets and undiluted chemicals can cause serious danger and should be kept out of reach of pets.

Lakes and rivers

Teller urged pet owners to avoid areas in lakes and rivers with cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae.

“These algae bloom most commonly in stagnant, shallow, warm water and produce some toxic substances,” Teller said in the release. “It takes a very small amount of the toxins to cause serious illness or death in a dog.”

The toxins can cause a range of symptoms, including bluish mucus membranes (gums and inside the nose), vomiting, muscle rigidity, seizures, and liver failure.

The ocean

When at the beach, it’s important that dog owners provide their pets fresh water and seek veterinary care if the dog begins vomiting after drinking sea water.

“If your dog ingests a small amount of sea water while playing, it may develop a little diarrhea but otherwise be OK,” Teller said. “However, if your dog ingests large quantities of sea water, it can potentially be fatal. The increased level of salt can disrupt the function of multiple organs and lead to seizures and kidney problems.”

The hose

Teller urges pet owners to remain cautious when rinsing dogs with a hose during the summer.

“Be sure to run the water in the hose for a few minutes before wetting your dog,” Teller said. “The water that remains in the hose between uses gets extremely hot, and if it contacts your dog’s skin, it can cause second- or third-degree burns. These are extremely painful, require intensive veterinary care, and can lead to permanent scarring.”

For more of Teller’s insights, watch the video at the top of the page.

You can stream KPRC 2+ weekdays at 7 a.m. on click2houston.com and the KPRC 2 app.