by Dr. Nicola Parry
Swimming seems to be a favorite sport for many dogs, whether in the ocean or the children’s pool! It certainly is a great way to exercise your dog – just as is the case with people, swimming is a non-weight bearing activity that reduces strain on the joints, The downside, however, is that it can increase the risk of skin infections. Dogs who swim in pools may have dry, itchy skin due to the effect of the chlorine and other chemicals in the water. Some chemicals can strip away natural oils from the skin, and may also have a bleaching effect, leading to a dull or even discolored coat. Swimming dogs are also at increased risk of ear infections because water in the ear canals produces a wonderful environment for bacterial growth.
So if your dog loves his water sports, follow these 10 points to help protect his skin and ears:
10 Ways To Care For Your Swimming Dog
- Avoid stagnant pools of water for swimming: These can be a source of slime, leeches or other parasites, and just generally dirty water.
- Apply conditioner before he swims: This will help to reduce the drying-out effect of water on his skin and coat. The HappyTails Ruff to Smooth leave-in conditioner spray is ideal for this purpose.
- Apply sunscreen: Dogs suffer from sunburn too. If he has a thin coat or light colored skin, be sure to apply sunscreen. This will reduce skin damage or irritation that could lead to itchiness and secondary bacterial infections. Try Flea the Scene which is a spray on anti insect and natural sunscreen designed for dogs.
- Rinse him thoroughly with fresh water after a swim: This is especially important if he swims in salt or stagnant water.
- Dry him well: After drying him thoroughly, spray his coat again with conditioner, and comb it out well.
- Bathe him weekly during swim season: Use gentle products to remove excess chemicals that have built up, and to alleviate any itchiness from sand or salt. If he is a lake or river swimmer, you may need to bathe him after each swim to remove any pollutants or slime from the water. Try Bubbles n Beads combined shampoo and conditioner. If your dog gets muddy or dirty during his swim, this shampoo will help to dislodge dirt and debris while quickly cleaning and conditioning your dog.
- Provide omega-3 fatty acid supplements: These will help to replace natural oils that are lost.
- Clean and dry his ears thoroughly: Use a small towel or cotton wool to remove excess water, and then use the HappyTails deodorizing ear wipes around the ear canal.
- Use a gentle ear cleaner weekly: This will help remove any salt, sand, or pollutants that have built up after swimming. The Cain & Able Ear Cleanser is a gentle and natural product that will help to clean and sanitize your dog’s ears.
- After the swim: As well as protecting him against skin and ear infections, don’t forget that swimming can be exhausting. So be sure to have fresh drinking water available for him after a swim, especially if he is swimming in stagnant or salt water – neither of which is ideal for him to be drinking. And make shade available too.
Just as we need to take care of ourselves, and our children during outside activities, it’s important to take care of our dogs in the same way. Following some simple tips, along with our own common sense, can go a long way to help our dogs to enjoy some fun, but safe time outdoors.
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