Keeping your pet cool during the dog days of summer!
Nothing beats the Florida heat in summer like taking a dip in the pool. The same is true for your dog. Most dogs enjoy splashing around in the water at the beach, in a lake or pond, or at the local doggy day spa. Why not create a water play area for your pet in your own backyard. The size of your dog, his age and agility should be considered before you begin your dog pond project. Another consideration to keep in mind is whether he prefers to simply get his feet wet or dive into the water and how will he access the pond.
When creating a swim pond for your pet at home it is important to know how to keep your dog safe from harmful bacteria and other dangers. For small to medium size dogs the simplest way to add a splash area would be to buy a kiddie pool. Keep in mind that stagnant water will harbor bacteria, attracts mosquitoes and may grow algae. When using a kiddie pool be sure to empty after every use then turn it upside down to keep it from filling with rain water.
Active and larger dogs may require a larger space to play. An in-ground liner pond can be installed over one or two weekends depending on the size of the pond. A proper filtration system is essential to any permanent pond installation. It will help keep the pond safe for your pet to swim in. The filtration system should include a recirculating pump, an external bio-filter and a UV sterilizer or an ionizer. An external pump is preferred over a submersible pump, keeping the cord and plumbing on the outside of the pond will keep dogs from getting tangled in them while swimming and out of site from dogs who like to chew. The bio-filter will help remove muck and debris from the water during recirculation.
There are two popular choices for sterilizing the water, a UV sterilizer or an Ionizer. A UV sterilizer allows water to pass through a chamber around an ultraviolet bulb killing dangerous bacteria and green water algae. The bulb in the UV sterilizer will need to be replaced once a year. Ionization is a process where microscopic ions of copper, silver and zinc are introduced into the water controlling organic growth such as algae. Mineralized water is not only safe for animals it actually promotes healthier living conditions in the water.
If you do not want the added expense of a sterilizer there are other options. Running your pump and filter 24/7 keeps the water recirculating and will help keep bacteria and mosquitos at bay. You can add chlorine to your pond but that could irritate your dog’s skin and eyes. A better choice would be to use a saltwater system similar to what is used in swimming pools. The salt will kill bad bacteria. When choosing a pump and filter system be sure to size them according to the gallons of water your pond will hold.
Getting in and out of the pond should be easy. Zero entry at one end with a gradual drop is a good choice for small or nervous dogs. A dog ramp or stairs works well for deeper ponds. Remember dogs have sharp nails. If your pet likes to dig you may want to protect the liner by mortaring flagstone to the sides and bottom of the pond or use gravel in the bottom.
Not only is swimming fun for your dog it is beneficial as well. Did you know that 15 minutes of swimming compares to 1 hour of running for a pup? Older dogs, especially those with joint issues, will benefit from this non-weight bearing therapeutic form of exercise. Even a dog who doesn’t know how to swim can join in on the fun using a doggy life jacket. Summer will be here before you know it, how will you keep your dog cool during the dog days of summer?
Table that you can add about dangers in the water: (Don’t like to call it this any suggestion would be appreciated. These things can be a problem in natural ponds, lakes and any still/stagnant body of water)
- Blue/Green Algae (Cyanobacteria or Planktonic): They use sunlight to grow and may be blue, green, brown or even reddish in color. They are a type of bacteria and can float on or below the surface of the water. Not all types are toxic. They are caused by high levels of nutrients in the water and thrive in still, warm water. May emit an odor.
- Leptospirosa: Bacteria that causes Leptospirosis in animals and people. It thrives in natural bodies of stagnant, still water and in water contaminated from wildlife urine. There is a vaccine available to guard against Leptospirosis.
- For more information visit these sites:
- Photos of blue green algae: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/bgalgae/photos.htm
- Campylobacter: These bacteria create campylobacteriosis, one of the leading bacterial infections to cause intestinal upset and diarrhea. If you have a water garden with no filtration that also has fish and frogs and your dog drinks from it he can become infected.
* This article can be found in our bi-monthly column in Sarasota Pet Magazine. You can pick up a copy at many pet stores in Sarasota & Bradenton