Drowning

April 12, 2012

Most dogs can swim. Actually 99% of dogs are excellent swimmers. Why then do hundreds of dogs tragically lose their lives by drowning each year? More often than not, dogs drown in their master’s own swimming pools and ponds. Adult dogs drown too but puppies are more vulnerable. Dogs who fall in ponds and pools will quickly recover their balance. The dog would quickly swim to the side and attempt to get out. This is where the trouble begins. The poor dog is not capable of dragging its wet body to dry land. The dog would keep on trying, swim around and around the pool until it use up all its energies, became utterly exhausted and sink to the bottom. In most cases, exhaustion is the cause of dog’s death. Dogs are good swimmers but only for short distances. These dogs get in trouble if they drift too far away from shore. Dogs also drown when kids are allowed to bathe puppies. Kids would unknowingly submerge the puppies in water.

Symptoms

In most cases near drowning would result to breathing difficulties due to inability to oxygenate blood when the lungs collapse and when water build up in the airways. The larynx of the dog will go into spasm completely sealing the airway thus the dog will die from lack of oxygen. Dog owners should watch out for difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness as well as signs of shock. The dog will have increased heart beats and weak pulse. The gums would be extremely pale or bluish tinged. The dog will also have cool extremities.

Prevention

One of the basic measures to avoid dog drowning is to never allow kids to bathe the dogs all by themselves. Kids would naturally enjoy doing the task but it should be ensured that they are under the supervision of an adult. Falling in pools is almost always the cause of dog drowning. Owner should never assume that the dog would stay clear of the water. One of the ways to avoid drowning incidents is to fill the pool to the brim so that the dog can easily climb over the edge of the pool. Another precautionary measure is to teach the dog where the step is. Pet owner can get to the pool with the dog and lead the dog to where the step is located. Dogs are highly intelligent animals and for sure they will learn the trick easily.

Treatment

Dogs that remain under water for quite a while will obviously drown. But resuscitation is possible if the dog is rescued on time. Once the dog is rescued from the water, immediately clear the dog’s airway of water. Puppies can be easily lifted upside down to allow the water to drain through the mouth and nose of the dog. If the dog is quite large, let the pet lie on his side with the head in a lower position then the body to allow the water to drain from the lungs. Feel for the dog’s heart beat. If the dog’s heart is beating perform artificial respiration at once. Before starting though make sure that the interior of the mouth is free from any debris that could obstruct the entrance of the air. The dog’s lower jaw must be raised. Keep the mouth closed by firmly pressing on both jaws. Holding the dog’s mouth firmly blow on the nostrils. Process must be repeated until the dog’s chest is moving indicating that the dog is breathing on its own.

If the dog’s heart is not beating cardiopulmonary resuscitation must be performed. The dog must be turned on its back. Using clasped hands on either side of the dog’s chest, apply moderate pressure by compressing the palms on the chest for a count of two and release the pressure at the count of one. This procedure must be repeated 60 to 90 times per minute. This procedure must be alternated with the resuscitation procedure. Basically the ratio of chest compression and breath of air on the dog’s nostrils is 5 is to 1. If the heart starts beating but the dog is still not breathing artificial respiration must be administered once again. CPR and artificial respiration must be continued until the dog is capable of breathing on its own. The dog must now be brought to a vet.

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