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Swimming for dogs

Does your dog like to swim? When it comes to water the majority of dogs throw themselves in, however, some are slightly more reticent and need a little coaxing. So why is swimming so good for your dog?

Swimming is great exercise: Water produces resistance so your dog has to work harder than if he was running and jumping on land. This works your dog's cardio-vascular (heart) and respiratory systems and builds muscle and strength and body tone. Did you know that 1 minute's swimming is roughly the equivalent of 4 minutes running on land? Strong, toned muscles keeps injury at bay by protecting them against muscle damage sustained through every day running and jumping. In healthy dogs, swimming should be used as part of an overall fitness regime for your dog that includes land-based walking and running, to ensure that your dog's bones are kept strong and dense.

Don't be surprised if your dog is not used to swimming and therefore can't swim for very long. As they get more used to the water, the amount of time they will be able to spend swimming will increase surprisingly quickly.

Swimming is also great exercise for those dogs that are older or coming back from injury. In these cases, prolonged swimming in colder water can have an adverse effect on your dog and make them susceptible to colds. Any rehabilitation work should be done in a specialist warm water dog pool and supervised by a canine rehabilitation specialist.

Swimming is great for mental health: Active dogs can quickly get bored and lethargic at home and so offering swimming as well as walking and running is great for the overall mental well-being of your dog.

Swimming helps with optimal weight maintenance: If your dog is overweight and finds it difficult to run and jump, swimming will help your dog exercise while protecting your dog's muscles and joints.

Swimming tires a dog out: All the resistance from the water means that your dog has worked extra hard. You may not be able to rouse your dog after a session in the water, which is an added benefit if your dog is normally hounding you to take them out!

Swimming keeps your dog cool: In the Summer months, swimming is a really great way of keeping your four-legged friend cool. Obviously, regularly hydrating your dog is the most important way of keeping your dog safe in the warmer months, and even though your dog may be swimming in the water, it is still important to make sure that your dog has access to clean drinking water too.

For dogs that can't swim, special canine life jackets are available which will allow your dog to find his aqua feet! If you decide on a canine life jacket make sure that it is fitted by a specialist to enable your dog to swim with ease in the right size life jacket and to enable the vest to do its job properly.

Above all stay safe. Even if your dog is a confident swimmer, always keep a vigilant watch over your dog just in case they get into difficulties.

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