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Pet Q&A:Kiddie pool's a treat; just keep it clean

Published: Tuesday, May. 1, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7D

My Lab mix loves to wallow in her kiddie pool. Do I need to treat the water for her to be safe if she drinks any?

– H.R., via Facebook

No, it's better if you don't. Just keep the pool clean and the water fresh. And always supervise the pool's use to prevent any accidents.

Small pools made of hard plastic are perfect for dogs of all sizes, providing a tummy-cooling wallow for an overheated retriever or a safe way to wade for a swim-challenged pug.

Kept clean and stored in a covered spot for winter, a kiddie pool will last many seasons. Be sure to choose the hard-plastic variety; the inflatable kind doesn't hold up well to dog claws.

You'll find the hard plastic pools will last much longer if you empty them and store out of the sun. While they're not that expensive to replace, why spend money you don't have to? With sensible, minimal care, I've had pools last five years before the plastic cracked. If you empty the pool between uses and store, you won't have to worry about your dog drinking anything nasty from the pool. It doesn't hurt to wipe the inside with a brush or sponge before rinsing clean.

Drinking the water isn't the only problem with a kiddie pool: Standing water is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and toxic algae. Rinse clean after every use and refill with fresh water every time and the pool's water will be safe for your dog, and inhospitable to unwanted bugs and toxic scum.

– Gina Spadafori

The buzz

Spay-neuter programs target the underserved

• The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates a population of more than 150 million cats and dogs in the United States. Most studies note that around eight out of 10 of these pets are altered.

The success of spay-neuter programs falls short in two areas: feral cats and the kind of large, tough-looking dogs favored by some tough-looking young men. Animal advocacy and veterinary groups have been tailoring programs to address these populations, offering free spays and even paying some owners or caretakers for bringing an animal in for surgery.

• Dogs are not good at keeping themselves cool, and they rely on us to keep them out of trouble. Limit exercise to the coolest part of the day, no matter how happy your dog is to participate when it's warm. Even in the coolest part of the day, watch for signs of trouble: Glassy eyes and frantic panting indicate a dog that needs help. Get him to a veterinarian immediately.

– Mikkel Becker and Dr. Marty Becker

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