Who doesn’t love to plunge headfirst into the pool on a hot summer day?
Summer heat presents the ideal conditions for humans and dogs alike to swim. But we must keep our four-legged friends safe while they frolic in the pool, river, lake, or ocean.
Luckily, it’s fairly simple to keep your dog safe in the pool. Don’t believe us? Read below on pool safety tips for dogs. You’ll be more than ready to have a fun, safe swim!
Can My Dog Swim in My Pool?
We know you’re excited for Fido to get his water wings, but don’t get ahead of yourself.
If you live in a pet-friendly apartment or neighborhood with a community pool, make sure your pool allows dogs!
Generally speaking, it’s safe to assume that, if your pool doesn’t have explicit bans on dogs in the pool, you’re probably fine to take a dip with your dog. However, if your community pool does have restrictions on dogs entering the pool, you’ll have to go elsewhere to get your swim.
Is It Safe for My Dog to Swim in a Chlorine Pool?
You’re probably aware that most pools are treated with chlorine to clean the water. This isn’t typically of concern to humans; most pools contain a relatively small amount of chlorine that is safe for humans (even when ingested – yuck!).
This inherent safety doesn’t necessarily extend to dogs, though. Canine eyes and ears are more sensitive than our own, and this can make dogs more susceptible to the negative effects of chlorine. Here is, moreover, where the old adage applies…”everything in moderation”. In general, you don’t have to worry about chlorine’s toxicity to dogs. “As far as chlorine: the amount in a pool is negligible. But, we’re not quite finished, the toxic concerns are with dogs getting into chlorine tablets, so these should be put in a safe location where a dog cannot get at them and eat them!. this is a warning from the Chief Vet officer at the AKC.
In fact, you should only be really concerned about your dog’s interactions with chlorine if he sees your pool as one giant water bowl. Drinking excessive amounts of chlorine can cause immense stress and discomfort to your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and may result in nausea, vomiting, or irritation to the esophagus.
Now, while that’s scary, we want to recommend that you not go rushing to change your pool’s chlorine levels. Improperly treated pool water can become a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
Instead of risking your dog drinking pool water, strongly discourage him from drinking pool water at all and be sure to rinse him off with fresh water after every swim. That will solve most of your headaches (and, if you’re getting headaches from the pool, make sure to check your own chlorine levels!).
Are Saltwater Pools Safer for Dogs than Chlorine Pools?
No, not really.
Saltwater pools will almost certainly be more gentle on your dog’s skin than chlorine pools, but, they also pose their own risks. If your dog consumes too much saltwater, he risks becoming dehydrated and upsetting the balance of his electrolytes.
Dogs that ingest a large volume of saltwater may also be at risk for developing a dangerous condition known as salt poisoning, which can induce vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, excessive thirst, and even death.
So, the long and short of it is that there’s no truly risk-free water for your dog to swim in. Keeping your dog happy and healthy while they’re swimming ultimately is going to fall completely on your shoulders. Your dog can’t make healthy choices!!
How to keep your Dog Safe in the Pool
The first thing to remember about keeping your dog safe in the pool is that not every dog even wants to swim in the first place! If you find out that your dog is more of a landlubber, for goodness’ sake, don’t force them to swim. It won’t be fun for them or you. And, you both can actually end up with a very dangerous situation. So, just don’t push it.
You read this and ask: “Well, how can I tell if my dog likes swimming or not?” Oh, trust us, you’ll be able to tell very quickly. Dogs are not afraid to show you how averse they are to water; in fact, they’ll positively leap out of the water if they’re not feeling the passion.
Some dogs are absolute sea dogs and can’t get enough of the water. Ask most Labrador owners, they’ll tell you all about it. If that’s the case with your four-legged friend, you have to know how to keep him safe once he’s in the pool.
Be Sure that your Dog CAN Swim
Lots of breeds of dogs are natural swimmers. Ever heard of the doggy paddle? But not every dog is so lucky to be born with those skills. Some dog breeds just don’t see the point in getting wet. Others don’t have the correct anatomical proportions for swimming without struggling to stay afloat.
Luckily, with some proper doggy swimming lessons and a life vest at your disposal, you can rest assured that your fur baby is confident in the water!
How to Teach Your Dog to Swim
Teaching your dog to swim is like teaching your dog to do most things. It’s all about building positive associations with the subject at hand. In this case, that means making them love everything about being in the water.
Try enticing them towards the water with a toy or a game. You can also try to create social situations with other dogs as a means of coaxing your dog into the water. If there is another dog that your pup is friendly with, consider arranging a time for the two of them to swim together. Just let your dog walk around and watch the other dog swim. Not only will this let him learn, but it will prove how fun the water can be!
After he’s shown interest in getting in the water, you can gently carry him into the water if he feels comfortable. If he doesn’t, that’s okay – just make sure to praise him heavily all the same and try again later.
If you are able to take him into the water, let him get used to it. Have your dog touch every part of the water with his body. Let your dog get used to just having wet feet, and don’t move into deeper water until your dog seems comfortable at the current depth. As he gets more comfortable, you can move him into deeper and deeper water.
Once you’ve guided or let him swim around in deep water, you should then point him towards the exit. Don’t underestimate the importance of completing this step.
Most dogs don’t know how to exit a pool for the first time, as they’re not used to going up the steps or ladder. Unfortunately, if a dog that doesn’t know how to exit the pool, he may begin to panic, thrash, swallow water, and become exhausted. This is not a safe situation!
To teach your dog how to exit a pool, have a person who the dog is comfortable with stand at the top of the steps or ladder. Next, enter the pool with the dog and carry, or lead, him just a short distance away from the steps. Then, let go of your dog and have the person at the top of the steps beckon your dog to come towards the exit. Once your dog goes to the exit, assist him out of the pool.
To maximize the effectiveness you’ll need to repeat this process over the course of a few days. Have him enter the water from different locations, so he knows the exit location. If your dog has trouble walking up steps or using the ladder, you may want to invest in a pool ramp. It will make it easier for him to exit.
Invest in a Quality Life Vest for Your Dog
Having a life-vest on-hand for your dog is always a good idea, even if he is the canine equivalent of Michael Phelps. Not only will it keep him safe, but it will help them build confidence as he gets acclimated to swimming.
According to Michele Golevski, NADD Dock Diving judge and Certified Professional Dog Trainer, dogs’ ability to swim comes down to confidence.
Unfortunately, dogs who run into the water for the first time may panic. Especially when they experience a sudden drop-off as the depth of the water changes. This experience can traumatize them and produce negative associations with swimming.
A life vest helps mitigate the potential for panic. It helps dogs float rather than sink once the drop-off happens. It also allows them to collect themselves and realize they can swim.
Search for a life vest that is made from durable, waterproof materials. It is important to find one made FOR a dog. It should be brightly colored for visibility from land. The vest needs to be adjustable to ensure a snug fit around your pup.
Also, don’t bother with life vests that don’t have at least one sturdy handle. Handles are essential safety components for any quality life vest. The handle then allows You to lift your dog out of the water, grab on to him if they’re struggling, or guide him while he swims.
Never Leave Your Dog Unattended Around Water
Just don’t do it. It’s not safe, it’s not cool, it’s just an all-around Bad Idea.
Any number of things can happen while you’re away from your dog while he’s swimming. The last thing you want is for your dog to be in an unsafe, or, life-threatening situation, without you there.
If you’re unable to supervise your dog outside, consider fencing bodies of water. Whether physical or “invisible”, any fencing that can prevent your dog from getting into the water is a worthy investment to keep him safe.
Know How to Administer Emergency Assistance
It’s terrible to imagine your dog in need of emergency assistance. It’s better to be safe than sorry when that time comes. If your dog drowns and you can no longer hear or feel their heartbeat, you may need to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.
For small dogs who are less than 30 pounds, this begins by laying him on a flat surface and placing one hand on either side of his chest, right over the heart. Compress the chest to approximately one-third the width of the chest, for a count of one, before letting go for a count of one. Repeat this process at a rate of 100 compressions per minute.
If needed, provide artificial respiration by closing the dog’s muzzle with one hand and blowing two breaths into their nose for every 30 compressions. Continue with this mixture of CPR and artificial respiration until the dog’s heartbeat and breathing returns to normal.
For larger dogs who are over 30 pounds, lay the dog on his side and kneel beside him. Place one of your hands over the dog’s rib cage and the other hand over the first hand. Without bending your elbows, press the rib cage down and compress the chest to approximately one-third the width of the chest for a count of one, before letting go, for a count of one.
As with the smaller dogs, you’ll need this process at a rate of 100 compressions per minute. The process for artificial respiration is the same for bigger dogs as well.
After the dog’s breathing and heartbeat are normal, transport them to the nearest veterinarian for an emergency evaluation.
Final Water Safety Tips for Dogs
While we’ve covered some of the bigger elements of how to keep your dog safe in the water, there are some smaller, but still important tips to touch on.
You’ll want to make sure that the water is warm enough for your dog. Water that’s too cold creates the risk of developing what’s known as limber tail. This is a condition that causes dogs to be unable to lift his tail up.
Make sure you’re providing adequate access to shade and fresh, clean drinking water when swimming with your dogs. Just as you keep your skin protected from the sun, you need to protect your dog’s skin too!
But you can’t just go shellacking your dog with Coppertone or anything. Dogs need sunscreen that contains no zinc oxide or PABA, as these ingredients are toxic to dogs when ingested. Instead, look for a waterproof, unscented sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
We know you want to keep your dog healthy, regardless of whether they’re paddling in the water or trotting around on dry land. In any hot weather, click here to Make sure you know how to keep your dog cool and comfortable in the heat! Alternatively, if you want to know how to add a healthy, inexpensive ingredient to your pup’s daily menu, click here Pumpkin, Super Food for Dogs!