Most dogs are able to swim, although this is not innate in all breeds. Some dogs, such as Labradors, are excellent swimmers. Others, on the other hand, will tend to sink more quickly. This is the case in particular with flat-nosed dogs, quite simply because they do not have very high breathing capacities and run out of breath much more quickly. Drowning is therefore never ruled out.
How can this happen?
Even though most dogs instinctively know how to swim, there is no such thing as zero risk. Indeed, there are many reasons that lead to drowning:
- The dog does not know how to get out of the water: this is particularly the case with dogs that have fallen into swimming pools and cannot get out, they end up exhausting themselves and sinking.
- The dog is physically exhausted: a fight against the current can bring the dog to a stage of intense exhaustion that physically prevents it from continuing to swim.
- The dog is submerged: the risk of submersion is increased in rough seas.
- The genetic factor: dogs with flat noses such as bulldogs will have more difficulty keeping their heads above water, so the risk of drowning is higher for these dogs.
What to do in the event of drowning?
- The first thing to do, of course, is to get the animal out of the water. Be careful, don't put your own life in danger! Take into account your physical abilities as well as the strength of the current or waves. If necessary, take a floating object with you to help you. When your dog is out of the water, immediately call a veterinarian so that he can intervene as soon as possible.
- Then, if possible, you will need to evacuate the water in the respiratory tract: depending on your strength and the weight of your dog, lean the dog forward by lifting it by the rear legs (upside down).
- Examine your dog: Is he conscious? Call him and try to stimulate him. If he doesn't react, take care to clear the airways by cleaning the inside of his mouth and find his breath.
- If your dog is unconscious: Place it in L.S.P. (Lateral Safety Position), place its head in a sloping position (downwards) in order to clear the airways as well as possible and allow water to drain from them. Check that your dog is still breathing.
- Dry and cover your dog: while waiting for the vet
⚠️ If your dog is unconscious and not breathing: You will need to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation immediately until the veterinarian arrives.
As always, it's best to stay alert by keeping a constant eye on our furry friends. A few simple reflexes can avoid disasters:
- Avoid strong currents that could exhaust it
- Watch out for swimming pools: if your dog has a tendency to jump into the water, stay alert and never leave your dog unattended.
- Do not throw your dog in too cold water: this increases the risk of hydrocution which can lead to cardiac arrest. If your dog is hot, we invite you to read this article to find out what to do (link)
- Why not invest in a dog life jacket?
Of course, the objective of this article is not to scare you but simply to warn you because there is no such thing as zero risk. As said in the article on heat stroke (link), prevention is better than cure. That being said, we wish you a great holiday! :-)