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The Dog Days of Summer

dog-days-of-summerThere’s a common misconception that all dogs are good swimmers and instinctively know how to doggie paddle. But in actuality, many breeds are not strong swimmers and could get into trouble even in shallow water. So it’s a good idea to research your dog breed’s aquatic abilities. And, if in doubt, invest in a doggie flotation device that will keep any dog safe whether swimming in the sea, in a river or splashing around in the family pool.

Dog flotation devices come in nice bright colors such as orange and yellow. Consider purchasing one with a handle on the collar that will make it easy for you to grab should your pooch get into an unsafe situation.

If you are teaching your dog to swim in a pool, always support them under the tummy until they master the movement. And make sure they know where the steps are located. Special pet safety ramps, such as the Skamper Ramp will help them get out of the water without panicking. Ramps are also useful if you have a boat and take your dog on board.

If you are planning to take your dog on trips to the beach consider purchasing a doggie backpack so that your pooch can carry his own food, water bottle, and toys for some fun in the sun. Invest in toys that float so that games can be waterborne too.

A special pet tent doubles as a ground sheet on the hot sand and as an umbrella. Both sand and sidewalks can be very hot to paw pads, so consider training your dog to wear special ergonomically-shaped booties until you are safely settled on the beach. They are the human equivalent of canvas shoes or flip flops suitable for beach outings and will also protect against any sharp stones and beach detritus.

Sunscreen is a good idea to put on your pet’s nose and any white spots on the tummy too. You can purchase special pet sunscreen. Alternatively, it’s safe to use a human sunscreen with an SPF factor of 15 or more.

Whether you’ve been swimming at the beach on in the pool, it’s important to always shower your pet down and give his coat a light shampoo as both salt water and chlorinated pool water can be very drying to the skin and can even cause allergies.  Using a moisturizing conditioner for dogs will prevent hair from tangling and make it easier for you to brush and comb through afterwards.  Never use human products as a dog’s skin has a different pH factor to humans and thus such products could dry out the skin.

Always check paw pads to ensure nothing is caught between the toes and apply a paw balm containing ingredients such as Shea butter to keep them soft and prevent cracking. Whether you’re at home or on an excursion, including your pet in the fun is a great way to spend quality time together, cementing your human-animal bond.

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