Now the weather has improved, it’s time to start getting active! And what could be a more refreshing way than going for a swim? Besides being a lot of fun for your dog, it’s also beneficial to health and fitness, which goes towards improving quality of life and life expectancy.

It’s no myth that dogs have a natural affinity with water and enjoy making waves wherever there happens to be some! Just like horses, most dogs have the ability to swim, so long as they have the confidence to try. We mustn't forget the term “doggy paddle” came from somewhere.

That said there are some dogs that are dangerously unsuited to aquatic sport and can encounter difficulties. Not every dog has the same enthusiasm for water as the Labrador retriever and Newfoundland, and water safety should never be overlooked.

Bulldogs, Dachshunds and small dogs like Chihuahuas may not have the strength to keep themselves afloat and their heads above water, so it is important to be more cautious with them. The Hurtta Outdoor Life Jacket is suitable for all dogs and is ideal for swimming, water rescue, rehabilitation, boating and hunting.

If your dog happens to love swimming - great! Try to encourage this love as much as possible with regular visits to the beach, the lake at the local park and the pool in the back garden. When the weather starts hotting up and long walks are uncomfortable, a quick dip can really help your dog stay cool and active. It’s also a great way of socialising your dog and building confidence.

If your dog swims regularly, its skin and ears can start to suffer a little. But don't worry, this is easily managed. The pH of the ear canal can alter after getting wet which leaves room for infection, so it is important to keep the ears as clean and dry as possible – something which isn’t always easy if your dog has long drop-ears or ears that are particularly bushy. Using a regular ear cleanser can help with the problem and RestAural is a gentle everyday solution for the maintenance of healthy ears.

Aside from the fun factor of swimming, it is also great for healing as dogs are weightless in the water and their muscles, joints and bones aren’t put under any strain. Obesity issues and degenerative joint conditions can really benefit from hydrotherapy, which is directed at easing chronic ailments, aiding post-operative recovery, and generally promoting better fitness in dogs, whatever their age.

For elderly dogs that are struggling to stay active because of tired joints and decreased energy, swimming is just what the doctor ordered. Forget long, arduous walks and high-impact games of fetch that younger dogs might enjoy, swimming can really help elderly dogs burn calories, improve muscle tone and strengthen joints, without being too taxing on an ageing body. Water also helps relieve arthritic pain so is remedial as well as fun.

For dogs that love life, joint degeneration can have a huge impact on their physical and mental well-being. While not all joint problems are preventable, involving joint aid supplements is a sensible investment for the future, as these contain the key ingredients needed for joint tissue repair and renewal. In fact, many people now include joint supplements as a staple part of their dog’s diet, whether or not there is an existing problem to treat.

Extending VioVet’s service of care to pets everywhere, we have developed Joint Force, our own branded joint care supplement. Joint Force offers high quality daily nutrition that is cost-effective and uniquely packaged to fit through your letterbox. We also have RestAural, a gentle, everyday ear cleanser designed for healthy ears. The formulation cleans, dries and acidifies, making it ideal for use after swimming or bathing.

While long sunny strolls are great for your dogs, this summer why not give swimming a try and see how their fitness improves :) If you have any comments or experiences, please share them with us! Feel free to contact me directly with any further questions: [email protected]

Written by: Hannah Dyball