Can’t Decide How to Exercise Your Dog In The Winter?
Take Your Dog Swimming!
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla is the managing partner at Hinsdale Animal Hospital with Kremer Veterinary Service, as well as a partner at CARE Animal Emergency Hospital. She received her BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois- Champaign Urbana, where she also completed her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She is AO certified, USDA-APHIS accredited, and is a member of the CVMA, ISVMA, AVMA.
As winter approaches and cold weather becomes the norm for many us, we begin to look for new activities that keep us indoors. Many of our pets feel the same way about this change in the season too! While some dogs enjoy the dip in the temperature and love taking walks in the chilly weather, others prefer to stay toasty warm inside. If your dog prefers to avoid the cold, consider taking your dog swimming by bringing her to a canine aquatic center this winter.
Take Your Dog Swimming
Canine aquatic centers are popping up all over the country as an alternative form of exercise for dogs. From pups with lots of energy, to pooches with a few extra pounds, or senior dogs with arthritis, many canines can benefit from time spent dog padding in a pool. Just like humans, swimming is a low impact exercise for dogs. Swimming also burns calories, improves strength and flexibility, and enhances range of motion for dogs.
Along with the health benefits, there are a few advantages to taking your dog swimming at a canine aquatic center over swimming outdoors. The pools at these centers are usually four feet deep and heated to 80 or 90 degrees so you don’t have to worry about undertow, weather, or water cleanliness. Dogs are normally required to wear safety jackets and some centers offer swimming instructors for animals who need to improve their swimming skills.
If you are interested in bringing your pup to a canine aquatic center, remember that not all dogs enjoy swimming and the additional social interaction at the pool may be too stressful for your dog. Some breeds, like Boston Terriers or Shih Tzus are not built for swimming because they are Brachycephalic (flat–faced), while other dogs may have health issues that make swimming difficult. Swimming can also increase the risk of ear infections and it can aggravate some skin conditions. Consult your veterinarian before taking your dog swimming if you have any uncertainty about her abilities or health.
Once you’ve determined your pup enjoys swimming, bring along some pool toys to encourage playtime and encourage additional exercise. We all know that dogs love retrieving, so toss in a throwing disc, rubber ball or anything that floats and watch your dog chase, catch and carouse in the water. Once swim time is over, be sure to rinse off your dog and dry her thoroughly with a towel since lingering moisture can cause skin infections.
Keeping your pet active in the winter can be easy if you think out of the box. Time spent dog paddling in the pool is a great way for canines to burn calories and can be good therapy for dogs with orthopedic conditions like arthritis or canine hip dysplasia. Even better, time spent with your dog swimming at a canine aquatic center will be great fun for both of you!
Read more about dogs affected by canine hip dysplasia here.
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