Your kids are not the only ones who enjoy the pools, rivers, and oceans in summer. Most dogs love a dip in the pool as well!

Summer is finally here in the Smokies, and it sure is HOT!  While you are vacationing with your dog, make sure you keep him cool, and plan some fun for him too!

Lately our favorite doggie outing has been to Pigeon Forge’s Riverwalk Greenway.  The Greenway is a 2-mile, paved path that runs along the Little Pigeon River.  Although there are several places to access the Little Pigeon River and the Greenway, we like to go to the Municipal Parking Lot on Teaster Lane, in Pigeon Forge.  This giant parking lot is rarely occupied by more than a few cars and is a great spot to let your dog run!

WALK – The walking trail is a nice place for an evening stroll along the river or a family bike ride.  Please be courteous and keep your dog on a leash, because this path is popular among joggers and bicyclists too!

SWIM – This section of the Little Pigeon River is a perfect place for your pup to cool off!  The water is fairly shallow here and easily accessible.  Sit on the grassy river bank or soak your feet in the river while your furry friend plays.  Our dogs love coming here!  It is a perfect place to chase after sticks and cool off on hot summer days. The Smokies are full of creeks and streams perfect for you or your pet to cool off on a smokin hot summer day!

Many veterinarians support the fact that swimming is great recreation for dogs while also providing tremendous health benefits. Below are some of the points which have been made regarding the benefits of allowing swim time for your canine…

Health Benefits with Swimming

  • The ability to provide minimal to no weight bearing exercise for post-op and geriatric dogs to promote the maintenance of muscle mass and overall physical conditioning.  Swimming provides an excellent source of cardio- conditioning post-op to fight lack of exercise in those who otherwise may not be able to exercise.
  • Swimming is an excellent way to provide an energy outlet and conditioning for dogs with ligamentous injuries or to combat over-exertions.  The buoyancy of water can provide temporary reduction in stress to joints though basic physics mechanisms.
  • For those with high energy dogs, swimming is a terrific outlet for hyperactivity in post-operative patients who otherwise need oversight in their motions.
  • Exercise gets endorphins going, and may be therapeutic for many behavioral disorders, such as separation anxieties, etc.
  • Warm water can help the tension in muscles relax from a physiological standpoint, microscopically and grossly in the muscle.
  • Just like in humans, swimming is a great weight control exercise for obese dogs and does not put undue stress on their joints.
  • Controlled exercise helps to maintain muscle health and reduce inflammation.
  • Aerobic exercise helps to combat depression in the severely arthritic dog. Obviously, if your dog has arthritis pain, swimming should never be done without proper pain protocols done beforehand, and set up with DVM, prior to swim.

An All Around Good Time!!!

  • Play periods and water sports are terrific for those who are genetically streamlined to innately need to do those things (water dogs, retrievers, spaniels, poodles, etc.) though all breeds can enjoy the water.
  • Swimming is a great opportunity to work on controlled retrieving.
  • Swimming is a wonderful way to strengthen the “human-animal bond”.  This is what we work for as veterinarians and guidance folks every day.  A controlled indoor swim environment is a great way to spend time with your dog without distractions.  It is even great in groups as dogs can play together and gain water confidence from other dogs.

So, as you are planning your Smoky Mountain vacation to Gatlinburg, TN don’t forget to bring your pet for some splish splash fun in the Smokies!