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Care for Water-Loving Dogs

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August 4, 2011 by wcobserver

Not all dogs love to swim and most cats hate it, but for some, it almost seems like a passion. Even in the winter some dogs love to swim. Most of the labs and retrievers have inbred affinity to water. Swimming is also great exercise both for humans and dogs. Some dogs lose weight in the summertime when allowed to swim and run freely. Exercise tends to reduce appetite so this is the time of year for dogs to loose those extra pounds stored up during the winter months.
Swimming is great exercise and fun but owners need to pay attention to the potential side effects of this healthy activity. Pool dogs, that spend a lot of time in chlorinated water, will develop dry, itchy skin and dull coats. To combat this problem, at the end of each day, rinse your pet with tap water, towel dry and then blow dry. You can feed omega 3 fatty acids to aid in replacing the oils removed by chlorinated water.

If you’re lucky enough to go to the beach use a sun screen before a day in the sun. After swimming in salt water, be sure to rinse with fresh water at the end of the day, comb out any residual sand and salt and blow dry. I worked at a vet hospital near the beach and this one dog was presented on a regular basis having drunk gallons of salt water. He loved the stuff and would come in all bloated up and lethargic. We would detox him and send him home only to have him back later with the same affliction.

Lake and river dogs have other hazards to deal with. Fresh water swimming holes are not always so fresh. Pollutants, slime, sludge and microbes can be lurking in rivers, streams and lakes. After a day at Beaver Lake or Lee’s Creek, it’s a good idea to use an antifungal, antibacterial detergent type doggy shampoo. Rinse well and don’t forget to blow dry. In my opinion, blow drying is the single most important step to preventing itchy, irritated and sometimes infected skin; and to prevent a trip to the vet.

The other most important step is dry ears. The design of the doggy ear canal is such that moisture is easily trapped in the ear canal’s horizontal portion. That is why dogs so violently shake their heads after swimming. But it is impossible to shake all the moisture out. Moisture causes yeast to grow in ears just as surely as black mold forms in houses that have been flooded. After you think you’ve got him all cleaned up and blow dried, take a paper towel, wrap it around your index finger and insert it into the vertical ear canal. Dry as much of the ear canal as you can this way and you’re usually good to go.

Let your dog have fun in the water this summer but keep him healthy at the same time with just a little TLC.

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