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In the Swim With Your Dog

Labrador retriever standing in low creek

Who doesn't love to watch a dog as he wades into water and instinctively begins to doggie paddle his way across a pond or pool? The fact is, most dogs enjoy the water—at least enough to wade in—and many are natural swimmers.

Swimming is a terrific exercise for your dog because it works the heart and lungs while stimulating the entire musculature system. And, unlike running on hard ground, swimming doesn't put stress on the hips and other joints.

Keep in mind that there are a few breeds that are just not built for aquatics. For example, the Bulldog's short nose, wide torso, and short legs make swimming difficult. Dachshund and Basset Hounds also have a harder time propelling themselves through the water, but it doesn't mean they won't enjoy it. If introduced properly to the water, most dogs will learn to love spending time there.

Follow these tips to keep your dog safely 'in the swim':

Let him start to swim at his own pace. Choose an area where he can walk into the water (such as a lake or beach), rather than submerge, all at once (such as off a dock).

Do not throw your dog into water. Not only could he swallow unsafe amounts of water, the experience may scare him so much that he'll forever fear the water.

Stay close. If you're swimming with your dog, stay close enough to help your pet if needed, but steer clear of those hard-paddling paws to avoid accidental scratches.

Be a lifeguard. Dogs can get caught up in the excitement of water games and lose track of their own fatigue. If your dog seems tired, trust your instincts: get him out to rest in the shade. Never leave him unattended when he's in the water. And use a dog life vest, if needed.

Watch for wildlife. Depending on where you swim, keep an eye out for creatures such as snapping turtles, jellyfish, and ticks. Take care of your dog's skin and coat by rinsing him with fresh water as soon as possible after swimming, especially if he was in salt water.

Give him a rest. Frequently call your dog out from swimming, and use the down/stay for him to rest in the shade. Be sure to have fresh drinking water. Too much swimming could lead to exhaustion and dehydration. Remember that dogs can get sunburned too, especially those with thin coats or lightly colored skin.

Have treats and fresh water available. Dogs can get a work out swimming just like we can. Always keep fresh water close by to keep your dog cool and hydrated. Treats  are also a fun way to reward your pup for good behavior and satisfy his hunger between meals.

Wherever you swim with your dog, a little safety and common sense will help you both enjoy this refreshing and beneficial exercise.

  • When Should You Switch Your Senior Dog to Soft Food?

    smiling lab sitting in front of brick wall

    As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.

    When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.

    two dogs eating from two bowls

    Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food

    If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.

    fluffy brown dog yawning showing teeth

    Teeth Sensitivity

    As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.

    However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.

    Digestion Aid

    Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.

    Hydration Help

    It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.

    girl kissing older dog on the head

    Slower Metabolism

    Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.

    Picky Eaters

    While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!

    Whether you choose dry food, soft food  or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.

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