Keeping your dog safe around water

Written by Natalie Ardita  | Published on: 6/19/2020

Some dogs take to water like, well, fish to water. Water can be a great source of fun for your pooch, especially on those hot summer days. But before you are in or around a lake, swimming pool or another body of water that’s deeper than they can stand in, make sure you take some precautions.


Most people think all dogs instinctually know how to swim however, that isn’t always the case. In fact, some dogs simply aren’t interested in taking a dip at all and depending on the breed, they may not be able to swim at all. Try these things to ease your dog into swimming or playing in shallow water.

  • Choose a spot that’s shallow and gradually gets deeper. A dog-friendly beach could be the perfect spot. 
  • Keep your dog on a leash.
  • Start at the edge of the water and don’t force him in, especially if it’s a deeper spot.
  • Once he starts to paddle with his front legs, you can gently lift his hind legs to show him how to float.
  • Keep the lesson fun and make sure to use lots of positive reinforcement.
  • If your dog likes the water but you’re uncomfortable with his swimming abilities, consider a doggy floatation device he can wear when you’re near water.

At the beach

Dog-friendly beaches are becoming more and more common. While you enjoy the sand and surf with your family, keep these in mind:

  • Try not to let your dog drink the water, especially if it’s seawater. Make sure you have freshwater in a bowl nearby.
  • If the water’s rough with large waves and a strong current, it can be dangerous for the most experienced swimmer. It’s best to save your dog’s swimming for another time.
  • Keep an eye out for fish that have washed ashore. Your dog may love it but consumption could make him sick.

At the pool

If you have a swimming pool in the backyard and you have kids, you’re probably taking extra precautions anyway, but don’t forget to consider your dog too.

  • Keep it fenced and keep a sturdy cover on top when it’s not time to swim, specifically one that doesn’t collect rainwater. Dogs can drown in puddles on top of pool covers.
  • Show your dog how to get in and out and make sure there are steps or a ramp he can use.
  • Check the water temperature before you allow your dog to swim. If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for him too. 

General water safety tips

No matter where your dog decides to take a dip, it’s best to always follow these rules:

  • Rinse him off afterwards. Things like chemicals from the pool, seawater minerals and algae can irritate his skin and fur.
  • Make sure to thoroughly dry his body with a towel and/or blow-dryer to prevent skin rashes, focusing especially on his ears to prevent infection.
  • Learn canine CPR. Someday it may help save your or someone else’s dog in an emergency. 
  • Always supervise your dog around water.

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