Year-Round Swimming Safety for Dogs

Swimming is a fun and easy way for your dog to get some physical activity while spending time with you and the rest of the family. It is important to remember, however, that water poses the same risks to dogs as it does to children; without proper training and rules, dogs are at risk for injury and drowning. Follow the tips below to ensure a safe swimming experience for your pooch.

Ranger & Jonas on diving board
1. Do Not Assume Your Dog Can Swim

While some dogs take to the water automatically, others are naturally fearful of swimming and may panic once in the water. Most dogs can perform the “doggie paddle” technique in the pool, but this manner of swimming is ineffective and difficult to sustain. Teach your dog to use his hind legs to move through the water, and gradually introduce pool time if your dog is nervous around water. Encourage, praise, and reward him to make swimming a positive experience.

2. Show Your Dog the Stairs

Do not allow your dog to jump into the pool from the sides, and teach him to climb out of the pool using the stairs. Not only will this prevent jumping injuries and damage to your pool, it reduces the risk of your dog jumping on top of another swimmer. Reward your dog for getting in and out of the pool the right way.

3. Consider His Vision

Dogs have deficient depth perception, which puts them at risk around pools and other bodies of water. Mark your pool steps and other exits with something large enough for your dog to see from the other side of the water, such as a potted plant or sculpture. Also, tape around the edges of your pool so that your dog knows where the ground ends and the water begins.

4. Protect Him from Chlorine

Chlorine can dry out your dog’s skin and cause flaking, itching, and irritation. Rinse your dog before he gets into your pool and again when he gets out. Also, discourage your dog from drinking the pool water. While a little is not likely to cause harm, too much could potentially make your dog sick.

5. Never Let Him Swim Alone

Dogs are vulnerable to drowning, just like humans. Never leave your dog alone in the water and make it a rule that your dog cannot go swimming without a human present. If you are taking your dog out on a boat or to the ocean, put a lifejacket on him. Dogs can tire quickly when swimming or develop leg cramps. Also, be careful allowing your dog around your pool if you use a winter pool cover. Your dog may try to walk across it, become wrapped up in it, and drown or freeze to death while panicking.

These canine water safety tips were provided by VetDepot, a trusted retailer of pet medications and supplies.

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