by | May 16, 2019 | Ask Roxie

pup swimming with life vest on
Not all dogs are born with an innate ability to swim. Some dogs actually need to be taught to swim.

Protect your pet from drowning this summer with swim lessons, CPR and life vests.

Maybe you’ve seen those dramatic rescue videos?

You know the ones, where a brave man wades out, saving some poor mutt, who somehow, ended up in a frozen river.

As summer arrives, swimming pools will open. Boat owners will scrape boat hulls, and river rafters are gearing up. Summer also means drownings. Here are some safety tips to keep the whole family afloat.

1.) Don’t assume your dog can swim.
San Antonio Pup, Pup and Away owner Stephanie Garza says: if your dog cannot swim, swimming lessons are in order.

“Sure, they may have an instinct to paddle their legs, like they are swimming. But not all dogs are born with this innate ability to swim.”

Garza, who runs a dog sitting service, says she remembers putting her pup Merlin in the water, assuming that he could swim, but watching as his hindquarters promptly sank.
“Most of our dogs do not know what these big bodies of water are. Give them an introduction.” If water is new to your dog take him gently into the shallow end of a pool, and see how he does.

Pup, Pup and Away owner Stephanie Garza has her staff of professional pet sitters take pet CPR courses so they are prepared to handle emergencies.

“Some dogs may be afraid, some dogs may love the pool.” If he freaks out, he needs lessons.
Garza says to teach them where the steps are, so they can get out when they need to. If he is a water lover, the strong swimmer still needs a cue, to obediently exit the water, when you want him to. Not bothering with this Introduction to Swimming 101, “can be a recipe for disaster,” she says. With toddlers and children, drownings happen in an instant. And so, with dogs.

2.) Get everyone a life vest.
Travel up to New Braunfels in summer and you will see pups, happily wearing sunglasses and life vests, floating down the river. “A lot of them have a handle on the top, so if you have a smaller dog, you can hang on to them,” says Garza. And to pull a small, or a large dog, to safety. Life vests for your pet are available at stores, for a fair price. Make sure that you also have one for your dog, this boating season.

3.) Watch a CPR video, for pets.
“There are a few pet CPR courses, that are inexpensive.” Garza and her staff at Pup, Pup and Away, have taken these classes. As professional pup-sitters, she and her staff must be prepared, to handle an emergency.

And speaking of people prepared for an emergency, 9-1-1 is also for pets in distress. The Alamo Heights fire department and the police department are at the ready if a non-swimming Fido ends up in the pool.

“Emergency services personnel have a history of responding to a variety of domestic and non-domestic animal situations, where the animal is in danger, or the potential for danger exists. This includes both adult and young dogs, cats, ducklings, etc., abandoned under buildings, in storm drains, or just abandoned, sick, or injured,” says Chief of Police Richard L. Pruitt, Sr.

Getting Fluffy down from a tree, escorting duck families to safety, or rescuing pups from whatever disaster they seem to land themselves in, is part of the job. “It is safe to say that our emergency services dispatchers will dispatch police, fire and/or animal care services personnel, to any situation necessary to preserve life or property including a dog in a pool.”

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Until next month!

Woof, woof,

By Berit Mason

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