Both dogs and their owners may love to swim but how about swimming with dogs? This can be a fun way to exercise, cool off, and bond with your dog. Below we will share some important water safety and swimming tips that are critical to the safety of you and your dog.
Water Safety Tips
The water can be a fun place to go and exercise but it can also be associated with possible dangers. Hazards include drowning, near drowning, poor water quality, toxins in the water, infectious agents or parasites, exposure to other animals, and possible trauma from things in the water that may not be visible. Learn more about these possible threats in The Importance of Pet Water Safety During the Summer Months. (INSERT LINK)
Some dogs are really great swimmers and comfortable in the water and others are not. Breeds known to be good swimmers include the standard poodle, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs, American Water Spaniels, Irish Water Spaniel, Newfoundland, English Setter, Irish setter, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and Spanish Water Dog. Lots of mixed-breed dogs are also good swimmers.
Any dog can be a good swimmer but some breeds that are not known for their swimming abilities including the Bulldog, Pug, French Bulldog, Shih Tzu, Basset Hound, Boxer, Corgi, Chow Chow, Maltese, Pomeranian, and Dachshund.
14 Swimming with Dogs Safety Tips
Some dog lovers jump into swimming pools, streams, rivers, oceans, ponds, and lakes to swim and this can be with their dogs. It can be fun. Some dogs love to fetch balls, Frisbees, or just float around.
Below are 14 tips to help keep you and your dog safe when you are swimming together.
- Supervision. Ensure your dog is supervised while he or she is in the water. Things can happen quickly. A dog can get caught on something in the water or caught in a current.
- Life vest. Get a life vest or water safety jacket for your dog. Even dogs that are good swimmers can have problems. If you are just floating in the water – it is a good idea to have a life vest on for you as well. Choose a style that is comfortable for your dog and has a handle over the back so you can lift him out of the water if needed.
- Have an exit strategy. Ensure your dog has an exit ramp to get out of the water and knows how to use it. Show your dog how to get in and out of the water. Dogs can drown as they struggle to get out of pools or deep lakes without an accessible shoreline.
- Restrict access. Prevent water access when you are not around. Dogs can fall in the pool or jump in because there is a duck in the water and drown. Dogs can also run out on the ice and fall through.
- Monitor water temperature. Ensure the water temperature is neither too hot nor too cold for your dog.
- Monitor water quality. If you are swimming in a lake, pond or stream, it is important to be alert for signs of algae bloom. Some forms of algae can be toxic to dogs and people. Additionally, if you have a pond on your property, consider having the water tested for bacteria or toxins.
- Provide quality drinking water. Take plenty of fresh clean drinking water for both you and your dog when swimming together. This will help minimize your dog’s desire to drink from the pool, pond or ocean water. Some of the water can be unsafe to drink or can make your dog sick. Additionally, it is important not to allow your dog to drink too much. Learn more in this article: Why You Should Keep Your Dog From Drinking Too Much Water.
- Boat access. If you are swimming with dogs off a boat, make sure that you have a dog-safe ramp to help your dog get out of the water if he jumps in and swims or falls in. Learn more about How to Ensure Safety When Boating With Dogs.
- Monitor for signs of heatstroke. Many dogs LOVE the water and what is better than being with you in the water. However, some dogs will overdo it especially if they are working hard swimming in the direct sun. Take frequent breaks and ensure your dog has plenty of water to drink. Signs of heat exhaustion can be excessive panting, fatigue, and/or lethargy. This can quickly advance to signs of heatstroke such as collapse, weakness, vomiting, bleeding, and death. Learn more about Heatstroke in Dogs.
- Prevent fishing hook hazards. Keep your dog away from fishing bait and poles. Some dogs will step on or even try to eat the bait and swallow the hook which can be a huge problem. Learn more about How to Remove a Fishhook in Your Dog.
- Monitor the water exits for hazards. Just as it is important to ensure your dog can get out of the water, it is important to understand that there are hazards lurking along the edges. Glass and metal can wash up on beaches and shores, debris can be in the water that can cut the paws of dogs.
- Post swim bath. Just as we often like to shower after swimming, dogs can benefit from an after-swimming bath. This helps rid them of pool chemicals such as chlorine, algaecides and baking soda you place in your pool as well as parasites, bacteria, and algae that can be on your dog’s fur from lakes, or the ocean.
- Dry out. Dry your dog’s ears after swimming to prevent infections. Some of the adorable floppy-eared dogs have ears that never dry out if they get water in them, making them prone to infections.
- Animals and parasites. Depending on where you are swimming, in addition to water dangers, there are other dangers. The ocean can have sea lice and jellyfish that can bother dogs. Sea lice are microscopic organisms that can cause severe itching. Jellyfish can sting dogs causing swelling and pain. Other dangers can be snakes, cockatiels, and alligators depending on your location. Please see your veterinarian if you have any concerns that your dog might have been bitten or infected.
If you don’t have time to go swimming with dogs, one thing you can do is create a doggy pool at your home. Learn how in this article: Keep Your Dog Cool With a Doggy Pool This Summer.