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Dogs learn to swim at Belgian veterinary practice

16:27 08/07/2020

If you, like me, were told as a youth that all dogs know how to swim and so when your pet jumps into the lake, you need not worry, you will be shocked at the following news.

Pieter Vanacker of Kapelle-op-den-Bos, north of Brussels, gives swimming lessons to dogs. “It’s a misconception that all dogs can swim,” the ‘small animal physiotherapist’ told VRT. “If a dog isn’t used to water and falls or jumps in, it can panic, just like a person can – with the same consequences.”

And some breeds were simply not built for swimming, he explains. “If you toss a French bulldog in the water, it is much more likely to sink than to swim.”

But there is good news. Vanacker, co-founder of the Anthemis veterinary practice, can teach your dog to swim. The dogs put on little life vests and join Vanacker, or a member of his team, in mini swimming pools, specially designed for them.

“Just like with kids, if the dogs can float, it’s much easier to teach them and to keep control of them,” he says. The water in the little swimming facilities for dogs is warm, which loosens up their muscles.

But even dogs who leap with abandon into water and swim around like a champ might not be swimming the right way. “We get a lot of patients with back problems because they have done a lot of swimming in a local lake or at home in the swimming pool and haven’t used their back legs. It’s about technique; we try to teach them how to swim correctly.”

Vanacker and his team specialise in physical therapy for our four-legged friends, with four Anthemis locations. In their offices you can also find doggie yoga balls, Jacuzzis and treadmills.

Photo: An Anthemis physiotherapist gives a swimming lesson

Written by Lisa Bradshaw