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  • Writer's pictureJill Kessler Miller, CPDT

Swim Vests

Swim vests

With summer here, many dogs are sharing in water sports with their owners. Which is wonderful--but please, PUT A WATER SAFETY VEST ON YOUR DOG!!

Many dogs are good strong swimmers. But they can, and still do, drown. Dogs panic, they tire, they get lost or injured, and they die.

Many dogs in pools will swim to the side, dog paddle until their exhausted and drown. It is imperative to teach dogs where to get in and out of a pool. This is done with calm instruction, repetition, and always with a vest on. Vests allow the dog to relax, learn pool safety and maybe, if we’re lucky, even enjoy the water.

Some breeds are just not suited for swimming, due to weight/size ratio, lack of fat for buoyancy, short muzzles, or just too small to fight the water. Many dogs sink like stones (for example, French Bulldogs, and most American Pit Bull Terriers), and there is very little to no chance to save them. Again, this is where a swim vest is literally a life-saver.

I made this comment on Facebook a few weeks ago, and someone said, “Oh, it’s okay. . . I’m there, it’s shallow, etc. . .” but what really struck home was when a veterinary technician posted that she sees eight to ten drownings every summer, from dogs that were supposedly “fine” in the water. That’s a lot of dead dogs, with no excuse.

Nemo (pictured) loves to swim, and will not get out the water. He is first in, last out, and I have to put a leash on him to drag him out of a pool. He will keep swimming when he’s tired, which is dangerous. But I don’t worry—he always wears his vest.

I, for one, am unwilling to take a chance of one of my dogs drowning. You should be too—after all, you are their protector and advocate. Many good vests can be found on Amazon. I personally like the Outward Hound ones, but any vest is safer than no vest. If you’re doing any water sport with your dog—boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming in pools, ponds, lakes or oceans, please invest $25 and put a floatation vest on your dog. There is no downside to it! Safety first!

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