As temperatures climb, we’re all inclined to take a dip in the ocean or nearby lakes that surround Vancouver, and this often means bringing our furry companions. Many of our patients at Amherst Veterinary Hospital enjoy doggy-paddling for hours on end! But for puppies and stocky breeds, which are either more nervous or less inclined to aquatic abilities, introducing them to the water can be a challenge.

Any and all dogs should be introduced to water situations slowly. You don’t want to throw them into water and have their first swimming experience to be one of anxiety and stress. Instead, find a location in which your pet can slowly approach the water and see how it feels to have it lapping at their feet. Throw a floating toy in and see if they will fetch. Extra points for going in the water with your dog, since everything is less frightening with their owner involved!

For stockier breeds like Bull Terriers or Pugs, they aren’t necessarily built to succeed in swimming. Their chest-heavy body styles often make it hard for them to keep their heads above water. Monitor these breeds carefully when they approach swimming for the first time. Whatever you do, don’t force your dog to swim if they aren’t enjoying it. Like humans, dogs have fears and dislikes, so you’ll get nowhere by trying to make them do it anyways.

There are pet lifejackets available if you will be around open or deep waters with your pet. A good rule of thumb is if your children need a lifejacket, so does your pet. Disaster and emergency preparedness sites note that pet owners are twice as likely not to survive a disaster because they are attempting to save their pets, so give your canine an advantage with a guaranteed way to keep them afloat.

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Our pal Pot Roast in his lifejacket


Above all, have fun! Explore the water together be it from the safety of the beach or in the open waters of the Pacific.

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