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Swimming safety and grooming tips for your furry, water-loving friends

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Always plan on bathing your pet after a swimming session.

The temperatures are warming up enough in some states to make a dip in the pool sound tempting. If your dog feels comfortable in the water, swimming can be an effective way to help them cool down on a hot day, too. It's certainly a fun way to spend a hot day at the beach, throwing a ball into the water and watching them paddle toward it.

As with any public experience with your pets, some grooming responsibilities come afterward. Here are some common summer grooming questions pet owners should know how to answer.

Should you bathe your pet after swimming?

The simple answer is yes! It doesn't matter if your dog swims in a lake, river, ocean, or private pool. Sand, seaweed, trash, and other things can get stuck in your dog's fur, making them look dirty and potentially causing irritation. Chlorine can dry out your dog's coat and skin, so remember to apply conditioner before and after they swim in a pool with chemicals in it. Don't forget the ears, either! When ears become water-logged, infections can develop. Carefully dry your dog's ears after swimming to keep their ear canal clean and healthy.

Should you check for anything on your pet?

Always examine your dog's coat thoroughly after they emerge from the water. Long-haired dogs can easily attract floating debris, including shells, wood, and plants. These can get tangled in their fur and potentially hurt your pet or cause them to scratch more than usual, resulting in skin irritation.

Should you cut your dog's hair in the summer?

Give your dog a haircut at your discretion, based on how often they go outside, roll around in the dirt, and go swimming. It can be beneficial to shave longer-haired breeds to avoid having to bathe them constantly. However, make sure to leave at least one inch of hair, and don't shave short-haired breeds at all because hair is a natural protection against sunburn and skin cancer.

Do the paws need any special care before or after water activity?

Your dog's paw pads don't offer much protection when you consider they could be walking on hot cement and sharp rocks. Monitor the temperature outside, moisturize your dog's paws regularly, and always clean their paws after walks. This will prevent them from getting debris stuck in their pads and licking excessively to remove it.

How often should I apply flea medication in the warmer months?

Fleas and ticks love the warmer weather, although you should maintain prevention treatment for these parasites year-round. The more opportunity you allow for fleas and ticks to feed on your pet and invade your home, the more likely they will.

What dangers lurk beneath the water's surface?

Jagged edges of rocks, shells, and other debris could be settled where the water is shallow. Swimming over one of these with their soft belly or stepping on something sharp could result in serious injury. Snakes also like to hang out in riverbanks, and they could lash out at your dog if disturbed. Swim in familiar places and examine the area before you or your dog fully submerge yourselves.

Can my dog get sick from public waters?

Sometimes the most dangerous threats are ones that you can't see. Parasites can live in water and infect your dog as they try to take a drink or stay afloat. Some common diseases caused by parasites include leptospirosis and giardiasis, and that's not even half of the possible illnesses your dog can pick up from contaminated water. Practice commands that tell your dog to leave standing water puddles alone, and get a life jacket to help them stay above water when swimming to avoid consuming the water around them. Talk to your veterinarian about any unusual symptoms and possible vaccinations that can prevent disease.

Some of these grooming chores might seem tedious, but they are well worth the minutes because they will lead to hours of enjoyment in the sunshine with your dog this summer.

Have a question about pet health? Want to become the best possible pet parent? Find helpful tips, reminders, and insight to giving your furry friend the best possible care with For Pet's Sake! Learn more at drdevonsmith.com.