We all know the dangers around pools for our human children, but what about our furry family members? Cats are naturally cautious around water, so for the most part we will be talking dogs, but if you have smaller pets like ferrets and rabbits be aware that there are unique challenges since they can easily slip through pool fencing.
Can’t Pets Swim?
For some pets, swimming comes naturally but for others, particularly Bulldogs and those breeds with snub-noses swimming can be a huge challenge.
If you envisage the whole family enjoying a day in the pool and your dog is not a natural swimmer, consider investing in a dog life vest or even a harness. Some added support or buoyancy allows your dog to learn to swim safely, but in the meantime supervise!
Show Them How to Get Out
For dogs that can slip through the pool fence or end up falling in when no one is watching, make sure they know how to get out! Practice where you get in with your pooch, then lead them to the stairs. Reinforce with practice every month so your dog doesn’t forget. If the stairs are not immediately obvious from the water also consider placing a marker nearby that is easily visible from water-level.
Know What to Do in an Emergency
Pet CPR is similar to human CPR. The rhythm you need for chest compressions is the beat to ‘Staying Alive’ by the Bee Gees (now, try and get that song out of your head!). If your pet has swallowed water and is unconscious, gently tip the head down to let any excess water flow out. If they are not breathing, give breaths through the nose, while holding the mouth shut. The chest should expand with each breath. Give 2 breaths to start with, then use the ratio 30 compressions and 2 breaths. Compressions should be done with your pet lying on the side. For larger dogs, compress the area just where the elbow touches the chest. For smaller dogs and cats you can compress the chest between your hand and it is less important where you compress as the whole chest will act as a pump. For a great video, view here. If your pet has been submerged, get them checked by a vet just in case, as sometimes inhaled water can cause delayed drowning.
Older Pets and Other Species
Be aware pets like ferrets can’t see particularly well, so are prone to ending up in unusual places. Rabbits will often startle, jump and end up drowning accidentally. For these animals ensure they are always locked up and not allowed to roam anywhere near the swimming pool.
Older pets may have senile dementia, arthritis or have failing vision, so vigilance is needed around pools. They may have been able to swim brilliantly as younger dogs, but now be a danger to themselves around water. Pets age much more quickly than humans, so ask your vet if they think there are any problems that might decrease their water safety.
With these tips in mind, we hope this pool season is safe for all members of your family, both furry and non-furry.
Dr Eloise Bright is a Sydney vet working for the online pet care company Love That Pet. She has a particular passion for helping pets with anxiety and itchy dogs. She currently enjoys the quiet life in Sydney with her young family, Jimmy the cat and a constant procession of stray cats and birds.