The dos and don’ts of dog water safety

dog water safety

Nothing beats the summer heat quite like chilling poolside—or lakeside or even beside a creek—and many of our dogs love to splash along with us. But not all our canine companions have mastered the doggie paddle, and even those that have can experience accidental mishaps.



Keep all your pet’s aquatic adventures safe with this important list of dos and don’ts:

  • DO check with your veterinarian before taking your dog swimming. Conditions like arthritis, heart disease or epilepsy can make swimming risky.
  • DON’T assume your dog knows how to swim. If your dog isn’t leaping in the water at the first chance, it may be time for some swimming lessons
  • DON’T force your dog to swim. They may be avoiding the water because they are tired or in pain and just aren’t up for the exercise.
  • DON’T leave your pet unattended around water. Even a regular swimmer can get into trouble if they encounter strong currents or can’t figure out how to exit a pool. Dogs living on boats should be confined at night.
  • DO fence off and cover your pool. This will stop your dog from taking a dip unsupervised.
  • DO teach your dog how to climb out of your pool, into your boat or onto your dock unassisted. You may have to purchase special dog-friendly ramps or steps.
  • DO monitor swimming conditions. Avoid big waves, riptides, strong currents or dangerously cold water.
  • DO purchase a dog life jacket. Keep your dog in the life jacket at all times when on a boat, canoe or other watercraft. Certain stocky breeds with short legs, like bulldogs and pugs, will always need a life jacket anytime they go in the water.
  • DO give your dog breaks. Swimming is hard work, and you don’t want them to tire out mid-swim.

Plus, make sure your dog stays healthy after all their watery fun with these extra tips:

  • DO check that your dog’s leptospirosis vaccine is up to date. This disease passes through contaminated water.
  • DON’T let your dog lap up the swimming water. This can be tricky to prevent. Offering plenty of fresh water can help head off any thirst.
  • DO rinse off your dog after a swim. Chlorine, sea salt or other debris can be irritating to their skin.
  • DO clean your dog’s ears after swimming. Ear cleaners with a drying agent will remove moisture that can lead to ear infections.


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