Playing it Cool in the Pool
Water-loving dogs will have a ball playing around the pool in summer, and it’s also a great way to tire them out whilst keeping everyone cool.
However, before you and your pet dive headfirst into pool-play, it’s important to be aware of some potential hazards and prepare accordingly to stay safe.
Welcome to Pet Pool Safety 101!
Like children, dogs should only have access to a pool area under supervision, as even athletic pets can become overtired and get into trouble.
If you have a pool on your property, ensure that it is securely fenced with the gate kept closed. Pool covers alone are not a reliable safety precaution, as pets can step onto these expecting a stable surface, and then become dangerously entangled in the soft material.
To ensure they can swim safely, dogs should receive some basic pool safety training. Unless you are sure that your dog can swim well, it is recommended to start their swimming adventures with a well-fitted doggy lifejacket to keep them afloat.
It’s essential to teach your pet where the pool steps are and ensure that they can reliably locate these and exit the pool on their own, so they can take rests as needed.
As with a child, ensure an adult is always present to supervise a pet swimming session and intervene if required.
Help your pet to exit the pool and rest if you notice them looking tired or puffed and offer them fresh water regularly so they are less tempted to drink the pool water.
Know your dog’s limits
Before embarking on an epic swim session, consider your pet’s likely swimming capabilities. This will depend on:
Breed - breeds such as retrievers are naturally good swimmers, whilst brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds generally have reduced aerobic capacity and may need their swimming sessions capped at a couple of minutes to prevent respiratory stress
Age - a younger dog will usually have more stamina than an older one
General fitness - a dog who participates in regular off-leash running activities will obviously have more aerobic capacity than a dog who only goes for short on-lead strolls!
Problems to watch out for
Apart from general water safety, you should also keep an eye out for a few other common potential pool-related problems, such as:
Hot pavement around the pool - can cause paw burns
Your pet getting dunked under the water unexpectedly - this can lead to water inhalation
Your pet drinking pool water - drinking chlorinated pool water or salt water can cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract and dehydration.
After each swimming session, it’s best to rinse any chlorinated water off your pet and then dry them well, particularly in and around their ear canals (as wet skin and ears can be a predisposing factor for recurrent infections).
With the right supervision and care, dogs can have lots of fun in the pool and stay cool. Water you waiting for?