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DOG / health & care

Water Safety Tips for Dogs

Safely enjoy the pool, lake or ocean with your dog


Dogs are natural swimmers, right? Actually, no they aren’t! Dogs instinctively tread water if they fall in — it’s called dog paddling – but that isn’t the same as knowing how to swim. That’s why all dogs need to be properly introduced to water.

The first, most crucial step is obedience training, because a dog who disobeys you on land will definitely defy you in the pool, lake or ocean. After that, follow this advice to keep your pet healthy and happy.

Protect against drowning

  • Know your dog. Some breeds are better suited for water than others. Breeds with short snouts, including pugs, English bulldogs and Boston terriers, aren’t built for swimming and will likely be better off on dry land.
  • Never throw a dog into a body of water.
  • Never leave a dog unattended around water. (Be sure to fence in your pool if you have one.)
  • If you have a pool, show your dog how to get out using the steps. The two of you should practice exiting the pool together until your dog understands where the exits are and how to get out if they accidentally fall in.
  • Swimming is tiring, and a pooped pooch is more susceptible to drowning. It’s up to you to get your dog out of the water every so often for a rest.
  • Invest in a doggie life vest and take a dog CPR class.

Other water health tips

  • Don’t let your dog drink swimming water. Lakes and rivers can host parasites and algae, pool water is chlorinated, and ocean water is salty; none of these are good for your dog. Keep a dish of fresh water available for your pet.
  • Rinse off dogs after swimming to get rid of chlorine and salt water, which can dry their skin. Dry their ears afterward, too, to help prevent infection.
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