The doggy paddle doesn't come naturally to all dogs. In fact, some dogs fear water and could drown from panic if they fall into deep waters. For those dogs that love to swim, dangers still exist. This is why life preservers are as essential to a dog's safety as they are to a human's.
Dress your dog in a canine flotation device for any activity that requires a person to wear one. These activities include boating, fishing and swimming in deep waters. While wearing one in a swimming pool is not always necessary, it does serve as an additional precaution. Small dogs and dogs that are learning to swim can safely wade in a pool if wearing a flotation device. Used in canine water therapy, life preservers keep dogs afloat as they regain strength in their muscles.
The flotation device must fit the dog properly. Otherwise, it can cause discomfort, limit the dog's range of motion and supply an insufficient level of buoyancy. Record the dog's weight and chest size, and compare these measurements to the weight and size ranges listed on each life preserver. A soft measuring tape provides an accurate measurement of the chest. Place the tape behind the dog's front legs, and wrap it around snugly, as recommended by Champion K9 Outfitters.
Associate the life preserver with something positive to help your dog feel comfortable wearing one. Praise the dog and provide a few treats as it sniffs the preserver and spends time around it. Then, when you do place the preserver on the dog, adjust the straps as needed so it fits closely without rubbing or digging into the dog's skin. Practice sessions in a swimming pool can also help the dog adjust to wearing one in the water.
If a life preserver fails to keep your dog afloat in rough waters, you can help it recover after rescue by providing first aid. Holding the dog by the waist or hind legs with its head facing downward can help if the dog is unconscious, notes Betsy Brevitz, D.V.M. She recommends that you monitor the dog closely and keep it warm if it's conscious. The dog will need veterinary attention if it has trouble breathing or other severe symptoms. By learning CPR for dogs, you will be equipped to resuscitate if needed on the way to the hospital.
- IAAMB: Canine Flotation Devices
- Champion K9 Outfitters: Canine Life Vest Fitting Tips
- "The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook"; Betsy Brevitz, D.V.M.; 2004