All Going Swimmingly: Swimming Safety for Dogs

We are excited to dive into summer – into lakes, rivers, and pools, that is. And, we know quite a few dogs who are just as excited as we are! Although we may think of them as natural swimmers, the truth is that not all dogs know how to swim.

Whether your dog already knows how to swim or you’re not sure if she’s a water dog, every dog can benefit from a few swimming lessons. So as we get closer to summer, Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital is focusing on swimming safety for dogs!

Swimming Safety for Dogs

Keep in mind that some dog breeds (bulldogs, basset hounds and pugs) and certain body types (large body, short legs) don’t lend themselves well to water. Here are some basics regarding swimming safety for dogs who are inclined to learn to swim.

  • Choose a shallow place to start
  • Keep your dog on a leash while they learn
  • Use positive praise to keep it fun
  • Lead your dog into deeper water slowly
  • Support her with an arm under her belly as she starts to swim
  • Never force her to swim if she doesn’t want to

Pool Safety Tips

Swimming safety for dogs in pools is similar to pool safety for children.

  • Make sure your pool is fenced
  • Provide a ramp for your dog as a second way to get out
  • Teach her where the ramp is, as well as where the stairs are  
  • Provide fresh water and discourage pool water drinking
  • Watch the pavement temperature to prevent paw pad burns
  • Never let your dog swim unsupervised

The Lake Has It

Many of us love going to the lake, and trips on the boat are a big part of our summer fun. With dogs, there are a few things to be aware of with swimming safety.

  • Always have your dog wear a life vest
  • Make sure you are capable of lifting your dog out of the water and into the boat
  • Make sure your dog has a strong recall so you can call them back to you if they venture too far

The Beach Life

Being at the beach brings joy to many humans and dogs alike, but a trip to the shore warrants additional precautions for dogs:

Read the conditions – ocean conditions change quickly. Make sure you understand how to read the water, wind, currents, and underwater hazards.

Rinse off – salt water and sand can wreak havoc on your dog’s coat and skin. Make sure you have access to fresh water – both to drink, as well as to rinse off in.

Rest your dog – your dog may love the beach so much that they exhaust themselves before they stop. Make sure you take breaks and let your dog rest when they need to. A tired dog is more susceptible to drowning.

Other Basic Tips

For basic swimming safety for dogs, we recommend that you have the emergency clinic’s phone number pre-programmed into your phone.

A first aid or basic CPR class (often conducted for pet owners though the Red Cross) may also be useful. A near-death dog can be helped by your quick action.

We hope these tips for swimming safety for dogs have been useful to you as summer nears. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.