Updated: Oct 25, 2018
You may not be aware but this week is NFCC's Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week. Water safety is very important, for both humans and for dogs. Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in the UK. According to the NFCC website, each year more than 300 people drown after tripping, falling or just by underestimating the risks associatied with being near water. We ourselves have sadly known of two deaths owing to accidental drowning - one just metres away from where Wilbur and Paisley go for a swim.
One of our lovely customers, Pelucchi, works as a firefighter and knows all about the risks. He has put together some of his very own tips on how to keep safe in the water. We've added some of his words of wisdom into a blog all about keeping your dog safe in water...
Water: a lot of dogs like it - some love it! Especially Paisley. Some of us assume that all dogs are natural swimmers but that's not the case. Some are born water babies, others struggle to swim and some are downright petrified of it! Wilbur used to be absolutely terrified of swimming but with a lot of patience, time, effort and with the help of a Ruffwear Life Jacket - we built up his confidence and he now loves it!
Even the strongest of swimmers can get into difficulty with water. There are many hidden dangers under the water’s surface ranging from rocks, discarded shopping trolleys, tree branches or roots, aquatic plants and mud - not forgetting the currents! These are all dangerous to dogs leaping into the calm surface water and consequently to any owners entering the water to rescue their dog.
Always make sure to look for the obvious dangers and consider the hidden risks when walking near water as well. Take note of any signs and noticeboards giving hazardous warnings - even if you know the route well, something may have changed since your last visit. Make sure to keep leads on near open water - especially near banks of fast flowing rivers and, of course, near weirs as there are lots of hidden and strong currents. Avoid walking near the edge of rivers and lakes just in case the ground is unstable - especially after wet weather.
Now we all love to take our dogs to the river or beach when it's hot to cool them down. The weather may be warm and, of course, the water is an inviting cool off. However, the water is considerably colder and can induce Cold Water Shock to both dog and owner - no matter their age or fitness level.
If you're going on the beach, remember to check the tide times so you don’t get cut off. Take note of warning signs for quick sand and mud. If you, yourself are intending to swim then only go to beaches with lifeguards on duty and pay attention to the flags and where you swim. When walking along cliff paths it's far safer to keep dogs on leads and away from the edge, it only takes one interesting sniff on the breeze for a well-trained dog to lose concentration…and possibly more! We have heard so many horror stories of this - in fact, there was one just recently of a puppy who died at Polzeath (where we went on holiday last year). The poor puppy was doing this exact thing and fell 30ft. It's not worth the risk, guys!
Find safe and easy access in and out of the water if allowing your dog to swim. Swimming can be tiring and getting out might become tricky after some time. Be sure to check there have been no reports of 'Blue Green Algae' in the area before you let your dog enter the water. Remember if you are throwing balls out to be retrieved that you don’t throw them too far - especially if your dog has been walking and swimming for a long time. Sometimes the instinct to get the ball and bring it back overrules their tiredness and need to take a break and rest.
Also note that if your dog has struggled in the water then they may have inhaled it so you should take them to the vet. Both dogs and people can drown a few hours after getting into difficulty in the water - you may be unaware at the time that water may have entered your lungs.
Finally, if your dog is in the water and you feel that they are in trouble, stop and think, and ring 999 for the Fire Service or Coastguard and follow their advice.
Pelucchi's Top Tips for Water Safety:
*Always remember the water is colder than it looks, dogs can suffer cold water shock too!
*Check tide times when walking on the beach
*Check for signs for quick sand and mud
*Keep dogs on leads on cliffs *If your dog is in trouble, ring 999 for the Fire Service or Coastguard.
If you would like to read more about water safety for dog owners, you can read Pelucchi's blog all about it here.
Thanks for reading and remember - be water safe!
Spread the word #BeWaterAware
Love from the WildPaws team