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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT
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Dog Owners, Watch Your Pups Around Water

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Your water-loving dog is probably counting (with all paws) the days until the pool or beach is open to visitors of the four-legged persuasion . With summer officially in gear, a lot of tails are about to get wet while wagging.

But veterinarian Dr. Sean Bell, owner of Greenwich Veterinary Center, says it's also time to think about your pet's safety in, around and near the water.

Dogs are generally very strong swimmers, says Bell, but small breeds such as small terriers, miniature poodles and Chihuahuas should be watched when in the pool because they may not be able to climb out.

“I’ve known of dogs that have drowned like this … sometimes they can’t get to the stairs or may not realize that it’s there at all,” said Bell. “You have to treat them like a small child. Small dogs are at risk of drowning if left in a pool unattended.”

But many dogs greet a day of watersports with unleashed enthusiasm. In fact, it's up to dogs' "humans" to be mindful of factors that could hinder four-legged fun, particularly in multi-purpose recreational waterholes.

The ASPCA cautions to keep dogs away from fishing lines, lures, hooks and bait. And if you're spending a day at the Sound or ocean, the ASPCA also recommends rinsing a dog's paws after contact with sand or saltwater, drying his or her ears after any water contact and brushing heavy or soft coats after a dip because wet hair can mat and trap bacteria.

Though many beaches in Greenwich , like Tod’s Point, are closed to dogs during the day, it’s common for owners to take their pooches out on their boats . You may want to buy a dog life preserver with a handle if you're taking your dog boating, Bell says. “If you’re boating on the Sound, you could be out on a rough day. Even if a large breed or a strong swimmer falls overboard in the wrong conditions, it’s dangerous,” said Bell.

Along with your book and sandwiches, remember to pack an appropriate toy that won't sink and send your dog to the bottom to fetch it. The best water toys are made of hard rubber and have a flotation device and easy-to-grab rope handle.

Bell says owners may want to get a moisturizer from their veterinarian if a dog swims in chlorinated pools frequently since their skin can dry out. Dogs can also get the canine equivalent of “swimmer’s ear.” “It’s not quite an inner-ear infection, but they can get a low-grade ear infection just from not being able to shake all the water out. Some dogs seem to be more susceptible to this than others,” said Bell.

There's nothing more fun for a dog than a day near the water, except, of course, for a day frolicking in the snow or a day hiking in the mountains, or a day ... well, it is a dog's life, after all.

Do you take your pup out on a boat? Let him swim in the pool or frolick at the beach? Send your photos to ahelhoski@thedailygreenwich.com .

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