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Swimming Safety For Dogs

June 15, 2022

Do you enjoy swimming? Many of our canine companions love to splash and swim. Others? Not so much. Regardless of whether your pooch acts like a furry, four-legged duck near water, or is a bit more hesitant, you’ll need to take some precautions to keep him safe. Read on for some tips from a Brampton, ON vet on keeping Fido safe when swimming.


Just like our hands and feet, Fido’s paw pads get quite delicate when they are wet. Your pooch will be extra susceptible to getting cuts and abrasions after he has gotten out of the water. Try to keep him on soft grass after he’s gone swimming. Paw balm will also help.


If you take Fido to a pool, the first thing that you would want to do is show him where the stairs are, so he can get out again if he were to fall in. This isn’t something you want to show your canine pal once: spend some time on this, and test him a bit. His life could depend on it!


If you are taking Fido to a lake or swimming hole, be sure to choose one that is dog-friendly. This is important for both legality and safety reasons. Dog-friendly spots are less likely to have strong currents, steep drop-offs, or other features that could endanger Fido.


Some dogs just really aren’t cut out for swimming. Small breeds, brachys, seniors, puppies, and pregnant dogs are better off in kiddie pools.


If Fido can’t swim well (or at all) you’ll want to keep a doggy lifejacket on him. Better safe than sorry!

Swim Lessons

If your canine buddy can’t swim, take time to teach him. Hold Fido as he is learning, and encourage him with praise to keep the experience positive. (Treats can come later, once your pooch has all four paws on solid ground.)


Pool covers can also be a hazard. Dogs sometimes don’t realize they aren’t solid. Fido could fall in if he tried to walk on one!


It’s probably not a life-threatening emergency if Fido laps up a sip of pool water, but try to avoid this. Chlorine is definitely not part of his recommended diet! Make sure he always has plenty of fresh water.

Our Advice on Swimming Safety For Dogs in 2024

What are the signs of water intoxication in dogs?

Water intoxication in dogs is a serious condition that can arise from excessive ingestion of water while swimming or playing. Signs to watch for include lethargy, bloating, vomiting, loss of coordination, restlessness, drooling, pale gums, dilated pupils, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing or seizures. Prompt recognition of these symptoms is crucial, as water intoxication can quickly lead to brain swelling, coma, and potentially fatal outcomes. Immediate veterinary care is essential to manage and reverse the effects of this condition effectively.

How long should a dog’s swimming session last?

The duration of a dog’s swimming session should be tailored to the individual dog’s health, breed, age, and swimming ability. Generally, sessions should start short, particularly for beginners or breeds less suited to swimming, such as brachycephalic dogs. A typical session might last between 10 to 30 minutes. Monitoring the dog closely for signs of fatigue, such as excessive panting or slowing movements, is crucial. Gradually increasing the duration as the dog builds stamina and confidence in the water is recommended for ongoing safety and enjoyment.

Are there specific breeds that are more prone to swimming-related health issues?

Yes, certain dog breeds are more prone to swimming-related health issues. Brachycephalic breeds, like Bulldogs and Pugs, often struggle with breathing difficulties due to their short nasal passages and can quickly become fatigued or distressed in water. Breeds with heavy bodies and short legs, such as Dachshunds and Basset Hounds, may also find swimming challenging and are at higher risk of drowning without proper support. Additionally, breeds with very low body fat, like Greyhounds, can get cold quickly, increasing their risk of hypothermia in cooler waters.

What are the best methods for drying a dog after swimming?

After swimming, drying a dog thoroughly is essential to prevent skin irritation and maintain good coat health. Start by using absorbent towels to remove as much water as possible, gently patting and rubbing the dog’s coat. A dog-specific blow dryer on a cool or low heat setting can be used to dry the fur completely, especially for dogs with thick or double coats. Ensure the dog is fully dry, including the undercoat and sensitive areas like the ears, to prevent any potential issues such as ear infections or hot spots.

How can owners protect their dogs from waterborne parasites or bacteria?

To protect dogs from waterborne parasites or bacteria, owners should choose clean, safe swimming environments known to be free of contamination. Avoiding stagnant or algae-infested waters is crucial, as these can harbor parasites and harmful bacteria. After swimming, rinse the dog with clean water to remove potential pathogens from the coat. Regularly check and treat the dog for parasites as part of their health routine, and consult with a veterinarian about appropriate water-safe parasite preventatives. Providing clean drinking water to discourage drinking from natural bodies of water also helps reduce risk.

As your local Brampton, ON animal clinic, we are dedicated to offering great care. Call us anytime!