Most people have never heard of dry, or secondary, drowning, but it is a very real danger for children and pets.
Because we live in Arizona, where so many of us have swimming pools and practically live in them during the summer, you need to be aware of this form of drowning.
Quite simply put, inhaling water while swimming causes excess fluid to build up in the lungs, making breathing difficult. This can actually drown your dog hours or even days after swimming! Your pup will, essentially, seem like a drunk human if dry drowning does begin to occur.
Vomiting with slowed and dazed movements are two things you should notice immediately. Difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, skin and gums that change color, drooling and coughing are other symptoms to keep an eye out for.
So, how can we prevent it?
Don’t squirt them in the face. Don’t spray the hose at the dog’s face. They love this...just trying to bite at the water but the chances of inhaling the water is too high.
Make your dog take a break. They’re likely not going to let you know they’re all done playing in the water for the day. As far as they’re concerned, chasing that stick a couple more times is all they want in the world. Make a plan to keep sessions short or take regular breaks.
Always keep an eye on them. If they seem to be taking in a lot of water while swimming, take a break and maybe don’t throw that stick quite as far out. Puppies need more breaks and should be taught to swim first before attempting water play. Mindful observation is key.
Don’t encourage diving. Don’t encourage your dog to dive for toys under the water – even in shallow water. Dogs open their mouths wide to pick up whatever they’re after, and chances are if they’re in the water, they’ll be getting a little of that too.
Choose toys that float if you’re playing fetch in the water. Choosing a flat toy rather than round one will also keep your dog’s mouth a little more shut and lessen the amount of water being gulped down.
Also, make sure your dog knows where the stairs in the pool are located. Most pups’ automatic reaction is to try and clamber up the side. Unfortunately, this isn’t where they can get out! Ensuring they know the proper way to exit is a huge safety precaution, especially if they happen to find their way in when no one is home to supervise.
If you do suspect your dog is suffering from water intoxication, take them immediately to the vet.
Of course, dry drowning can also occur in humans, so please keep an eye on the little ones.
-Malinda Malone is a certified master Pet Tech instructor who teaches pet owners and pet professionals CPR and first aid for pets. She also owns the Diamond Cut Spa at 4825 E. Warner Road, Ahwatukee. Information: 480-689-1261 or diamondcutspa.com.