Splashing in the Pool: Water Safety for your Pets by Jenna B.

In these hot summer months, it’s no wonder a lot of people enjoy the refreshing feeling of jumping into a pool. It sure is a great way to cool down, but when it comes to bringing your pet along, there are a few things to maybe reconsider.

Swimming 101

Unlike what most people think, all dogs aren’t born with the natural instinct to be great swimmers. It might take a little practice before your dog learns how to paddle his back legs.  If you take your dog, put him in the pool and all he does is splish splash everywhere and staying in an almost vertical position, he’s probably just paddling with his front legs. A few doggy swimming lessons might be in need, and that’s OK. First off, you can try by supporting their back end for a short distance. This will usually prompt them to start using their back legs as they see that it’s not as exhausting as their panicking vertical swim was. Also, there are now life jackets specially made for dogs! Same idea; they’ll help your dog stay horizontal in the water.

Safety Exit

Does your dog know how to safely exit the pool when he’s had enough? One of the most common reasons dogs drown is because they get so exhausted of swimming. Make sure your dog knows how to take a break if he needs one. You might want to teach him to float on floaty chairs and mattresses if it’s a small enough dog (although sharp nails might be a factor here!). If it’s a small dog, know to only let them swim for short periods of time before you let them out if they are not able to use the stairs. With bigger dogs, they can learn how to push themselves out of the pool using the stairs. A good tip is to put something flashy next to the steps, so if ever the dog is in the pool and is turning round and round trying to find its way out it just needs to spot that one thing and he’ll know that’s the way to the exit.

Other Things to Consider

  • Just like humans, skin can be sensitive to chlorine and can make your dog’s skin quite dry and itchy. It’s always a good idea to rinse your dog off thoroughly after a swim. Keep in mind areas that tend to stay damp and make an effort to dry them off right away. Dogs with floppy ears that love to swim end up having ear infections very easily because the inside of the ear stays damp and creates the perfect environment for fungal growth.
  • Dogs have sharp nails; the pool side can get damaged quickly if your dog is trying its best to climb out. On the other hand, it’s also damaging your dog’s nails; they can get worn and torn quickly. Make sure you examine your dog’s nails and paw pads for any bleeding when they’re out of the pool.
  • If your dog sheds a lot outside of the pool, imagine how much he’s shedding in the pool. All this fur can get clogged up in your filtration system. Also, you have to consider that your dog doesn’t wipe his bum and will most likely introduce fecal particles in the pool that can increase the chance of transmitting bacteria and parasites like E. Coli, Giardia, etc.
  • Avoid the use of a floating pool cover. These are very dangerous if your dog falls in by accident. Even the most experienced swimmers can get lost and disoriented if they find themselves struggling to find the water surface. Invest in a safety cover that covers the entire pool, they are much safer as they create a physical barrier.
  • Try to discourage your dog from drinking pool water and always keep a dish with fresh water close by.
  • Discourage any running around the pool, this can be dangerous not only for them, but for anyone standing around the pool.

The pool can be a great way for your dog to cool off and even burn some extra calories, but please make sure you go through a little safety lesson with them. Make sure they are comfortable swimmers and not just panicking. Make sure they know how and where to get out if they need to. Give them a good rinsing when they come out. But most importantly, please do not let your pet swim unsupervised. You should have the same idea as if it was a young child around the pool, always keep an eye on them.