As Summer approaches and the days grow warmer water-borne activities become more popular. Trips to the lake, hikes along a mountain stream, beach days, and lazy afternoons by the swimming pool are all things we enjoy during the long days of Summer.
As is the case with many of our activities our goofy Great Danes want to take part in the fun. While we all enjoy spending time with our Danes, it is important to remember that Great Danes are not natural swimmers. It is not that they are not capable of swimming, they are, but it is not something that they were bred to do.
Despite this, many Great Danes thoroughly enjoy the water. Some just want to splash about in the shallows, others will float for hours on an inflatable raft, and still, others love to swim. While there is nothing wrong with letting your Great Dane enjoy a little time in the water, there are precautions you need to take.
Just like people, dogs can drown. Even prolific swimmers like Labradors and other retrievers can tire over time and will find it more difficult to keep themselves afloat. You should never allow your Dane (or any other dog) to enter the water unsupervised.
Here are some additional tips for keeping your Dane safe near the water:
1. Test Your Dane’s Ability
As was stated earlier, Great Danes are not natural swimmers and some Danes are somewhat afraid of the water. Regardless of whether your Dane jumps right in or requires a little coaxing, it is always a good idea to test their ability to swim. While most Danes will pick up the ubiquitous ‘doggy paddle’ stroke quite easily, others may require some training. If need be, use a canine-approved life vest to help your Dane improve his stroke and become a better swimmer.
2. Time Your Meals
Great Danes are deep-chested dogs and are prone to bloat. Never let your Dane engage in any strenuous exercise immediately after eating. It is recommended that you time your feedings to allow two or three hours between mealtime and swim time.
3. Always Have Fresh Water Available
It is important that your Great Dane always has fresh water readily available and that they are well-hydrated prior to swimming. This reduces the likelihood that they will ingest the water they are swimming in. Chlorine and other chemicals in pool water can cause upset stomachs and diarrhea, saltwater in large amounts can literally be deadly for your Dane, and the stagnant waters of inland lakes and ponds often contain bacteria and algae that can cause you and your Dane harm.
4. Never Let Your Dane Swim Unattended
We know we already mentioned this, but it is vitally important that you never let Fido swim unsupervised. Supervision is more than just being there playing on your phone. You need to be attentive to your dog just like you would be with children. You should monitor them for fatigue, panic, and any other signs of distress, and you should be prepared to rescue them if need be.
5. Different Bodies Of Water Present Different Dangers
Swimming Pools – Swimming pools without a shallow end with steps can be extremely dangerous for your Dane and you should ensure that your Great Dane does not have unsupervised access to the pool. Even if your swimming pool does have a shallow end with steps, be sure to teach your Dane how to use them. Every time they enter or exit the water they should be trained to use the steps. It is not uncommon for an animal to panic if they can not find a way out of the water and panic can be a killer in the pool.
Oceans – Your Great Dane will almost certainly enjoy a day at the beach, but oceans and other large bodies of water harbor many hidden dangers. Riptides, undertows, and other strong currents can easily overpower your Great Dane and either pull them under or drag them out to sea. In addition, waves and tides make swimming much more difficult and your Dane will tire more quickly.
Rivers and streams – Rivers and streams are moving bodies of water with currents that vary based on depth, grade, topography, and other factors. These bodies of water can be dangerous for you and your pets. If swimming in a river or stream always choose calm areas of water near the bank where you and your Dane can easily get back on dry land. It is important that you know the river or stream that you intend to swim and the topography of the surrounding area. Never enter the water upstream of a waterfall and be aware that rocks and other hard surfaces surrounding these bodies of water are often slick with moisture and worn smooth by erosion.
Inland lakes and ponds – Inland lakes and ponds are one of the safest places for your Dane to swim. There are rarely any waves or currents to be concerned with and the shorelines tend to be easily accessible. However, these bodies of water can pose a threat as well. Because of the lack of current in inland bodies of water the water can become stagnant and stagnant waters are where algae thrive. Many algae are dangerous, if not deadly to you and your Dane.
Most dogs love water to some degree and your Great Dane is likely no exception. There is nothing wrong with spending a warm Summer day enjoying the water with your Dane. Just know the risks, be prepared, and understand that your Dane depends on you to protect them. Enjoy the water responsibly.