Buddy & Porky’s Pet Health

Dear Porky and Buddy,

Now that the ice has finally thawed from my swimming pool, I have it opened and I am looking forward to a reasonably warm day to enjoy it. But I also just recently adopted a new puppy and a cat and they both like to hang around with me while I am near the pool, and they both seem interested in it. Should I assume they can both swim and could get out if they accidentally fall in? How do I make sure they are safe?


Dear Steven,

Many dogs, and some cats, enjoy swimming in the family pool. (Just like they enjoy hamburgers and strawberry shortcake, but that’s another column.) And even if they don’t swim, they may like to just loll around on the nice warm deck perilously close to the edge.

But before you go out and buy doggie swim trunks (or bikinis) there are some things you should know. First, not every dog or cat can swim, despite the prevailing belief that animals are born knowing how to swim. And older dogs, or panicked animals, might not be able to swim for very long, if at all. Second, most animal drowning occur at night when no one is around to assist the animal if it falls in. So the problem is not so much what happens while you are with them, but how much access they may have to the pool when you are not there and whether they or the pool are equipped to handle that situation.

Knowing that, here are simple steps you can take that can help make your pool area safe for your pet all of the time.

Obviously, you should have a barrier fence around your pool and always close the gate when you leave the area, even if it’s just for a moment. The best gate is the kind with a self-closing and self-locking mechanism. If you have an above ground pool, consider removing the ladder when it is not in use so pets will not have access to the water while you are not around. Just as obviously, you should keep all pool chemicals locked up and inaccessible from pets (and children).

Dogs and cats are more likely to become dehydrated in strong sunlight, so make sure your pets have fresh water available when they are outside so they are not tempted to try to drink from the pool. Drinking chlorinated water can make your pets sick even if they don’t manage to fall in. And if you let your pets swim, rinse them off with non-chlorinated water afterward.

And there are safety accessories you can buy that can be helpful (although not as helpful as common sense).

Use a pool alarm. Many pool supply companies will have various types of alarms available for pool safety. These alarms will let you know if the water is disturbed in your pool. There are several types to choose from, such as a floating alarm or one that can be installed directly onto your swimming pool

You can install a plastic ramp on the side of your pool that extends into the water, offering trapped animals a way out if no one is around to help. One that we know of is the Skamper-Ramp. The ramp is polypropylene, making it lightweight, waterproof and mold-resistant. It sits at eye level and is made so all animals can see it.

You can use a collar alarm that can be attached to your pet’s collar. If this device becomes submerged in water, the alarm will sound.

Of course, nothing is more important than monitoring your pets and their whereabouts and keeping them in a safe area when you are not around to supervise. As we have pointed out many times before, having pets is a bit like having perpetual toddlers. You never have to send them to college, but you always have to watch out for them.

Your new cat would be a lot less interested in getting into trouble if she had her very own cat companion to play with. And what a coincidence! For the entire month of June, the Oswego County Humane Society is waiving its adoption fees for all adult cats. On Saturday, June 11th at Fred Raynor Ford, Route 3 West, Fulton, NY, you can meet our “Certified Pre-Owned” better than new cats! And if you adopt a cat that day you will receive a coupon for a free oil change at Fred Raynor Ford and a coupon redeemable for $200 toward the purchase of a car at Raynor Ford.The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email:[email protected] Website: www.oswegohumane.org.