Summer Swimming Tips

The dog days of summer are finally here, and it doesn’t seem like the heat will be letting up any time soon! If you and your pup are looking for a great way to escape the heat, you may be considering a trip to the pool. Here we’ve laid out all of the tips and tricks that you should know before taking your dog for a dip in the pool.


Don’t Assume Your Dog Knows How To Swim

Many people are under the false assumption that dogs are born knowing how to swim. Even though it’s called “doggy paddle,” it won’t necessarily come naturally to your dog, so it’s best to test the waters in a shallow, calm area of a pool or lake. Stockier breeds may have more trouble staying afloat, and dogs with short snouts like pugs may have a hard time breathing while swimming and may tire easily. These dogs don’t have to miss out on the fun, though! A small, shallow paddling pool in the back yard is great for dogs who don’t have the best swimming skills. Just fill it up enough for your dog to still stand, and he can roll around and splash in the water to his heart’s content. And if you want to take your dog who isn’t the best swimmer to the pool, lake, or ocean, a life jacket can be your best friend for keeping fido afloat.


Don’t Let Your Dog Drink the Water

This tip is mostly directed at dogs going for a swim in a river, lake, or the ocean. While drinking pool water might upset your dog’s stomach, there is real danger in your dog drinking water out in nature. Lakes, ponds, and rivers can have microorganisms that, when ingested, can cause diarrhea or even death in severe cases. Pesticide runoff can also be present in these water sources and can be dangerous for dogs if they drink too much. The ocean poses another risk because it’s salt water, and if your dog drinks ocean water, he is at risk for what is commonly called “beach diarrhea.” Because of the salt in ocean water, it pulls liquid into your dog’s intestines, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even dehydration. If your dog drinks enough ocean water, he can even suffer kidney damage. It’s best practice to always bring fresh water and a portable water dish for your dog when engaging in outdoor activities, and you should always keep a close eye on your dog to make sure he’s not drinking lake or ocean water.


Rinse Off Afterwards

Chlorine from a pool can irritate your dog’s skin and eyes, and lakes and rivers can have bacteria that will stick to your dog’s fur and make him sick. A quick rinse or even a bit of shampoo can be great after a swim. Also make sure to thoroughly dry your dog’s ears, because water stuck in his ears can lead to an ear infection, which isn’t fun for anyone.


Safety First

There are some other general safety tips that you should keep in mind when taking your dog swimming. Always make sure that you are swimming in safe waters. If you are at the beach, be aware of beach closures and take note of how strong the current is. A strong current plus a dog with less than amazing swimming skills isn’t going to be the best match. For lakes and rivers, make sure you are well out of the way of boats and fishing areas, and try not to swim in areas that are too rocky. Swimming is usually accompanied by sunny weather, and dogs can get sunburned easily, especially around their nose and ears. Special dog sunscreens can help to protect your dog from the sun’s powerful rays. And on the flip side, don’t take your dog swimming in inclement weather. If storms are present, it’s not safe for your dog to swim. You also shouldn’t take your dog swimming if he’s recently eaten. It’s best to wait 1.5 – 2 hours after mealtime to take your dog swimming. Make sure to take frequent breaks, too, so that your dog doesn’t get too tired out.


Try Out Watersports

If your dog is a confident swimmer who is like a fish in the water, he might enjoy learning some dog-specific water sports. Water retrieval is great for dogs who love to play fetch and who love to swim! You can find dog toys specifically made for water play that will float so that your dog can easily retrieve them. If your dog really loves water retrieval, you might even be able to find some competitions to enter. Another fun water sport if you live near the beach is surfing. While it’s not the most common sport for dogs to do, surfing is definitely an eye-catching activity for your dog to participate in, and some places, especially on the west coast, may offer dog surfing lessons. Dock jumping is great for dogs with tons of energy and a love of water. With dock jumping, the aim is for your dog to run down a dock and jump as far as possible, and in competitions, the best dogs can jump over 25 feet! Not only is this a great way to get your dog some exercise, but it’s a fun, entertaining dog sport to watch, too!


With all of these tips, your dog will be ready to make a splash this summer!