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Water safety: Keeping your dog safe this summer

During this warmer weather it’s extremely important to keep our canine companions cool, but please think twice before letting your dog roam the local waters.
 
You might think canines are natural-born swimmers, but that isn’t always the case. There’s no sure way to gauge your dog's swimming skills until you introduce them to water for the first time.
 
This can be done in a quiet, shallow spot of water (on a lead or long line) or you can take them to swimming lessons at a local canine aqua centre. 
 
If your dog shows no interest in water, or doesn't want to go, don’t force them. Instead offer them a bowl of cool, fresh water and keep them in the shade to cool down instead. 
 
Never force your dog into water – don’t pick them up and drop them into any body of water, even if they’re an experienced swimmer or if they usually show an interest.
 
Dogs can easily get into trouble in water, become too tired or get caught in an undercurrent so never leave them unattended, even if they’re experienced.
 
If your dog does get into trouble in water, please do not go in after them. 
 
Although you might think the best thing to do is try and help them, it’s also very easy for people to get into trouble in water.
 
What if your dog gets into trouble?
 
1. Stop, take a breath and think – do not go in after them 
 
2. Ring 112 and ask the local Fire and Rescue Service or the Coastguard if you are by the sea
 
3. Wait for further advice from the relevant authority 
 
How to avoid getting into trouble
 
1. If you’re heading down to the beach, check the tide times
 
2. Try to avoid high tide and the crashing waves 
 
3. Always keep your dog on a lead if you walk on a cliff path
 
4. When walking near rivers or lakes, try look for obvious dangers and considers the hidden risks and dangers
 
5. Takes note of any signs and noticeboards giving hazardous warnings
 
6. Try to tell somebody where you are walking and take a charged mobile phone
 
7. If you want to let your dog swim, be sure your dog has a safe and easy access in and out of the water. Swimming is very tiring, especially if its hot and getting back out might be difficult after some time
 
8. Remember water is usually colder than it looks, try check the temperature of the water before letting your dog swim by dipping your hand in
 
9. To avoid cold water shock, never throw your dog into a body of water and let them enter it at paw height so they can decide if they want to be submerged
 
10. Be sure to check there has been no reports of “Blue Green Algae” in the area before you let your dog swim, it is toxic to dogs
 
11. Invest in a dog life vest
 
It’s also important to note that if your dog has struggled in the water, they may have inhaled some and you should see a vet. 
 
Both dogs and peoples can drown a few hours after getting into difficulty, as water may enter our lungs and we can suffer from secondary drowning.
 
Whilst it is fun to watch our dogs play in water, run around the water sprinkler or jump into a lake or river time and again to retrieve a ball, please be aware that these activities have one potential danger - our dogs may inadvertently swallow a large volume of water if they carry on the activity for a period of time. 
 
This is known as water intoxication, or hyponatremia. The excessive fluid intake, causes the body to lose sodium so, in order to rebalance itself, the body increases fluid intake inside the cells, which can be fatal in dogs, especially if the brain cells become swollen.

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