Keep Fido safe around the swim­ming pool

Seems like dogs just know how to swim, right? Well, dogs often drown in back­yard swim­ming pools. Phoenix, AZ, dog trainer Sam Basso has these very use­ful tips for pool own­ers who are also pet owners.

1.) Super­vise Dogs As If They Were Small Chil­dren: The same pool safety rules that apply to chil­dren apply to dogs. Just like you hear that kids will silently drown in a pool, even when sur­rounded by a group of peo­ple, a dog will silently slip under water and drown if you aren’t being vig­i­lant. So, some­one needs to be assigned to be a dog’s super­vi­sor when the dog is allowed into the pool area. And if the super­vi­sor leaves the pool area, the dog needs to be out of the water and out of the pool area, too. Even if it is for just a few min­utes. And just like kids can get too tired, so can dogs. So, you have to learn their sta­mina level, and keep an eye on how well they are swim­ming, and when they’ve had enough. Guests need to be told when the dog has had enough, and to not toss a toy again in the water for the dog to retrieve.

2.) Learn Some Basic Dog First Aid: Every dog home should have a dog first aid kit, and those who are super­vis­ing the dog need to know where it is and how to res­cue a drown­ing, drowned, or injured dog. Dogs can slip and fall, break bones, get cut on glass, drink alco­holic drinks, chew on pool imple­ments and swal­low pieces, or get into pool chem­i­cals. Talk to your vet­eri­nar­ian. See if there are any classes avail­able. Some fire depart­ments are start­ing to learn how to work with injured dogs, and it might be pos­si­ble to attend these classes, too.

3.) Make Sure You Tell Every­one The Safety Rules: Not only should the fam­ily have a good idea of what can and shouldn’t be done with the dog, so too, should you inform guests before they enter the pool area what you allow with your dog. That includes not allow­ing the dog to drink a lot of pool water. Dogs need a sep­a­rate water bowl in the pool area filled with nor­mal drink­ing water. And dogs shouldn’t be swim­ming on a full stom­ach of food because of the risk of bloat / tor­sion. So, wait at least 3 hours after a meal before let­ting your dog swim.

4.) Learn How To Swim: I have never met a healthy per­son that couldn’t ben­e­fit by being in a swim­ming pool. Yet, every fam­ily has some­one who doesn’t know how to swim. You should NEVER have a per­son super­vise the dog around or in the pool, if that per­son doesn’t know how to swim. If the dog some­how endan­gers another per­son or ani­mal in the pool, then some­one needs to be able to jump in and save that per­son or ani­mal. And if the dog needs res­cu­ing in the pool, then that per­son needs to be able to jump in and save the dog. Even if you don’t have a dog, if any per­son that is ever to be around a pool should know how to swim. Swim­ming isn’t that hard to learn, classes are fun, and once you have the basics, pools become very enjoyable.

5.) Build A Good Pool: Some pools arewell made, safe, and are man­aged well. Oth­ers are poorly made, com­pletely unsafe, and are a mess. If you are going to own a pool and a dog, then it is time to get a pro­fes­sional pool inspec­tion, and let them know that part of what you are con­cerned with is your dog’s safety, and your family’s safety with the dog. For example…

a.) Hid­den under­wa­ter fea­tures, such as built-in cement stools or seat­ing plat­forms might be cool for humans, but if a dog jumps into a pool and lands on that fea­ture, the dog could break a leg and drown.

b.) Unsafe under­wa­ter suc­tion drains have caused chil­dren to drown, and new laws require them to be of a dif­fer­ent design. Such a drain could also kill a dog that liked to swim to the bot­tom of the pool to retrieve toys.

c.) Slip­pery swim­ming pool decks could be a prob­lem if a dog races past a per­son and causes some­one to fall. Pool decks can get VERY HOT and burn your dog’s feet. Remem­ber, they aren’t wear­ing san­dals like you are. The new decks are designed to not get burn­ing hot, and dogs need a shady, com­fort­able place so they don’t over­heat. Just because you are cool in the water doesn’t mean a dog has enough sense to go in and cool off, so the dog needs a shaded spot on the deck for their comfort.

d.) Pool fur­ni­ture needs to be pet safe. Dogs shouldn’t be teth­ered to pool fur­ni­ture. The fur­ni­ture needs to be sturdy, too.

e.) Fenc­ing needs to keep the dog inside the pool area when swim­ming, and out­side the pool area when the dog isn’t sup­posed to be in the swim­ming area. Fenc­ing is often required by law, so make sure yours is in compliance.

f.) Cer­tain pool sur­faces and pool decks can be dam­aged by a dog’s nails. Is your pool ready for your dog?

g.) Install spring loaded, lock­ing gates.

h.) New, high tech detec­tion devices and pool alarms should be installed: motion detec­tor lights; water motion detec­tion alarms to notify you if the dog is in the pool with no one around; secu­rity cam­eras; web cam­eras which you can log into from your phone or com­puter when away from the home. You can even pur­chase col­lar alarms for dogs which will notify you if your dog falls in the water or is submerged.

i.) Many dogs can climb chain link fences, and some wooden fences can be bro­ken down by a very deter­mined dog. Dis­cuss bet­ter fenc­ing sys­tems with your pool professional

j.) Con­sider land­scap­ing risks. Some plants are poi­so­nous. Plant pots can fall over if bumped into, not only pour­ing all that dirt into your pool, but also a trip­ping / falling haz­ard. It is also impor­tant to use pet safe fer­til­iz­ers and pest con­trol prod­ucts. Dogs will dig in planters and con­sume dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals in the process, so look into organic solu­tions, and con­sult with your vet­eri­nar­ian about poi­son­ing risks. Remem­ber, dogs aren’t ever going to be wise or care­ful like humans.

k.) Install a dog safety pool ramp so your dog has an eas­ier time exit­ing. Often times, the steps are just too high for the dog to nav­i­gate, espe­cially if a smaller dog acci­den­tally falls into the water and can’t jump out. Above ground pools have lad­ders that dogs can climb, so those need to either be remov­able or some­how enclosed so the dog can’t get in the pool with­out any­one knowing.

l.) Dog water toys should always be put away when you aren’t play­ing with your dog. You don’t want a dog to be tempted to jump in the water with­out you see­ing. And loose toys on the pool deck are a trip­ping / falling haz­ard. Have a stor­age area for all pool toys, both human and dog.

m.) Pool cov­ers should be installed so that the dog can’t get in the water, if no one is around, even if the dog gets into the pool area. Pick a durable cover that can sup­port the weight of your dog.

n.) Dogs should be taught to stay off div­ing boards. If you want the dog to learn to jump into the pool, it should be from a safe point at the side of the pool, or the dog should be taught to climb down the steps into the pool.

o.) Rou­tine main­te­nance should be done on all pools. Espe­cially if there is a dog. Have a plan and be proactive.

p.) Dogs SHOULD NOT be encour­aged to get into a hot tub. They can’t han­dle the heat and will die. Be sure to keep cov­ers on hot tubs when not in use.

r.) Pool vac­u­ums can be dan­ger­ous for dogs to play with, and dogs can get tan­gled or trapped behind the float­ing pipe. All of that should be moved out of the way before a dog is put into the pool to swim.

s.) If your pool is attract­ing wasps, then hire a pest com­pany to find the wasp nest and have it removed so your dog isn’t stung.

t.) Lap pools can be used for your dog, too

u.) Good land­scape design is a neces­sity. Think about safety.

v.) Your pool house should be designed to be pet safe. Just like a home needs to be child proofed, same with a pool house if a dog is going to be inside.

w.) Pools are becom­ing a back­yard oasis for fam­ily recre­ation. So, it is only nat­ural for the pool and back­yard to be pet friendly.

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