Although they are naturally strong swimmers, dogs can still drown. They may panic in a strong current or become exhausted if trapped in water, particularly in swimming pools or ice-holes.
What To Watch For
It is vital to ensure your own safety before attempting to rescue a dog in water, especially in open, stormy seas. Do not put yourself at risk.
Try to rescue with a hooked pole through the collar or by approaching the dog in a boat. Only enter the water if there is no other option and make sure you have something the dog can cling to, which both floats and will take the dog’s weight.
If the dog is still conscious, get him/her to solid ground and keep him warm.
If the dog is unconscious:
- Hold him upside-down for 10-20 seconds and shake him gently a few times to empty the lungs of water.
- Lie the dog on its side, with its head lower than its lungs.
- Open the mouth and clear any objects or debris. Pull the tongue forward.
- Check for a pulse. Begin CPR if none is found.
- If there is a pulse but the dog isn’t breathing, give artificial respiration.
Any case of near-drowning is severe and can lead to life-threatening problems hours after the event. Always take the dog to the vet for a full check-up. Emergency care may consist of oxygen supplementation, diuretics and electrolyte monitoring as well as blood pressure monitoring. Assisted ventilation may be necessary.
Always treat dogs like children around water: allow them to play, but under close supervision. This is especially true for more dangerous situations, such as thin ice on lakes and ponds or on open seas.
If your dog is a regular crew member on boating trips, make sure it wears its own, dog-adapted life vest.
If you have a swimming pool at home, always make sure your dog is supervised outside. Leaving an appropriately-sized life preserver floating in the pool is an additional precaution, but is not a guarantee of safety.