When it’s summertime and the weather is hot, many dogs, like their human families, enjoy splashing around in a pool, lake, or at the beach. But they absolutely should not take a dip unless under your watchful eye. Contrary to popular belief, doggie paddling doesn’t come naturally to all canines. Some dogs can’t even swim.
For instance, brachycephalic dogs are unable to balance well in the water. Their flat faces need to be held aloft to breathe, so their bottoms tilt down to compensate. Dogs with a short leg-to-body ratio, like dachshunds, basset hounds, and corgis, also have difficulty managing the water — they may not be able to paddle fast enough to keep their bodies afloat. It’s the same for dogs with compromised limbs as a result of arthritis, or extra girth, or surgery.
Even families with a dog who loves nothing more than a refreshing swim should never leave their pet unattended. In a pool, for instance, they may not understand that there are steps under the water that they can use to get out (even if they used them to get in). They can end up swimming around endlessly trying to figure out how to exit the pool, leaving them exhausted. And at the beach, there’s always the risk of a riptide. You have to be there with your eyes on the lookout to secure your dog’s safety in the event of an emergency.
For extra safety beyond your own eyes (and arms), consider purchasing a canine life jacket and/or a ramp. These items might prove especially useful for an adventurous dog who doesn’t exercise caution — or who isn’t that great at heeding your cues.
Features to look for: lifting handles, bright colors with reflective trim for visibility, and adjustable straps for proper fit.
The EzyDog Dog Flotation Device provides comfort and buoyancy with an ergonomic pull handle, adjustable straps, and a nylon D-buckle for additional safety. With reflective trim in x-small to large from $49.50 to $59.50, it’s available on sites including theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com, Frontgate.com, and Amazon.com.
Kurgo Surf N Turf provides freedom of movement for your dog’s rear haunches and front shoulders yet wraps to the belly with a tapered fit. This life jacket also has two lifting handles, and removal of the flotation material inside converts it to a handy shell to give your dog some relief from inclement weather when he goes back to being a landlubber. It comes in sizes x-small to x-large with a price range of $35 to $58 on sites including Chewy.com, Moosejaw.com, and Amazon.com.
The Outward Hound PupSaver Ripstop jacket provides chin support to keep your dog’s head above water and a multi-handle design to pull your dog from the water. It comes in sizes x-small to x-large, ranging from $15.99 to $27.99 on sites including drsfostersmith.com, Chewy.com, and Jet.com.
If you want your dog to be able to climb back onto a boat or dock, a ramp might be just the thing.
The Original Doggydocks Floating Water Ramp for Dogs does double duty as both a floating water toy and a lightweight, 28-pound ramp. Better still, using the ramp is intuitive — your pet won’t need to be taught how. Comes in an original, jumbo, and foldable model, with prices ranging from $345.00 to $410.00. Available on Pupgearcorporation.com.
The Paws Aboard Doggy Boat Ladder and Ramp weighs only 12 pounds. Costs $196.99 on sites including Amazon.com, Overstock.com, and Jet.com.
The Super Skamper 42-Inch Pool Pet Ramp with Extension will do the trick for dogs up to 200 pounds. Safe for vinyl-lined pools, it has a one-year warranty and costs $79.99 at such sites as Bedbathandbeyond.com, Petsmart.com, and Dog.com.