Help your dog stay afloat in all water conditions.
Aren't all dogs natural swimmers? When do you decide what water conditions warrant a flotation device?
Most dogs are excellent swimmers. When given the chance, many dogs will run around on shore and jump into the water to fetch and play. When a dog swims from shore, the dog chooses how far away from shore he/she will swim. But many of us are taking our four legged friends along on adventures that go beyond the dog's comfort level, swimming abilities and stamina. Our desire to share the experience with our pups places them in conditions with moving water, distances from shore or water temperatures that test their ability to survive. Using a K-9 Float Coat™ anytime your dog is around water just makes sense. There are instances where a dog has jumped in from a dock but was not able to get back up, a potentially life threatening situation had a human not been there to assist. On another occasion a Shih Tzu entered a small creek, caught up in chasing a duck. Within four feet of river, the dog was pulled to the bottom, overcome by its long hair and river current. Again disaster was avoided because a human became involved. Exposure to a potentially life threatening situation for both humans and dogs could have been avoided with a life vest.
Is hypothermia an issue for a dog? How do you know when the dog has exceeded this point?
Yes, hypothermia is definitely a concern. Very young and very old dogs are more susceptible to hypothermia. Keep a close eye on your dog throughout the duration of exposure. A tail, which is not held high and utilized as a rudder, is one of the first signs of fatigue and a stressed dog. Shivering, decreased heart rate, dilated pupils, pale or blue mucous membranes, stupor, unconsciousness or coma are all signs of hypothermia. Here again a life vest can assist in more ways then the obvious. By assisting your dog in floating, your dog can utilize energy spent on trying to stay afloat and use that energy for staying warm. Additionally the closed cell flotation of our K-9 Float Coat provides insulation from the cold.
How do you safely rescue a struggling dog from the water? And how do you know if your dog is struggling?
Use the handle placed along the back of the dog flotation device to assist the dog to safety. In the event the dog is not wearing a flotation device gently lift the dog by his/her body. Do not pull on legs, head or tail. If the dog has suffered some sort of trauma (broken bones), place the dog on a board and lift him out of the water gently. A good indication your dog is struggling is to watch for the rudder indicator. If the tail is dropped and not being used as a rudder, that may be your first sign of a fatigued, struggling dog. Choking, gasping for air and climbing on top of other swimmers are also signs of a struggling dog.
How do you decide what water medium is okay for your specific dog (i.e. reservoirs, rivers, lakes, etc.)?
Personal experience, knowing your abilities and the abilities of your dog and being familiar with environmental conditions are just a few common sense approaches to understand the limits of you and your dog.
How do you know if you are asking too much of your dog in a water environment and possibly putting him at risk?
Any time you venture out into a new environment, you are exposing yourself and your dog to a new learning curve. By acknowledging this you can be attentive to your dog's needs and your dog will understand your needs. After several outings both you and your pup will be well accustomed to the activities.
Part 2 - On the Water