Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pugs and water safety: Pugs can't swim!

Liam the pug stretched out on the carpet
Every day I find a new safety issue concerning Liam the pug. This week, it involves a cool feature that came with our new house. And that feature has a LOT of water. 

That feature is an outdoor hot tub. And it's a problem due to pug anatomy.

Pugs have really big heads and really short necks, so they're often top-heavy. When Liam was a puppy, he would run and fall flat on his face, simply because his head was much too heavy for the rest of his poor body to support. When this happens on land, it's pretty amusing. When it happens in the water, it can become a tragedy. 

Top-heavy breeds often can't support their heads above the water, and the short snouts they have don't allow them to pick their nostrils up above the water line. This can mean drowning, and it can happen in the blink of an eye. The dogs might not even make any noise during the episode, as they'll be trying too hard to pick up their heads. 

Drowning is of particular concern with man-made receptacles for water, like hot tubs and pools, because they usually come with heavy covers. These covers can trap heat inside the water, and keep bugs out, but little dogs can sometimes slip beneath the cover, and then drift to a secure spot beneath that cover where they can't get out, and then they drown. It's really sad, but it happens. Even thin covers on pools and hot tubs can be of concern, as dogs can walk across the cover, fall in and then be unable to find a way out again.

Thankfully, this hot tub sits well off the ground, and it also sits well off of the deck. There's no way that a short little guy like Liam could ever get in there. I don't think he could even jump in there, even if he wanted to. That means I don't need to do any prep here to keep Liam from drowning, simply because he'll never be able to reach the water line.

But I am still careful to keep him inside when the cover is off of the hot tub. He can watch me through the windows, but I don't want him coming near the water. If the tub wasn't so high, however, I think I would take the darn thing out. Fences and such would never keep out a determined pug, and I don't know how I'd live with myself if something happened to my dog in my hot tub.