Keeping Your Dogs Safe at the Pool & Lake This Summer

  • Jul 1, 2020
  • Swimming with your Dog
  • Tips & Advice
4 tips for keeping dogs safe at the pool this summer.Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Ahh, the dog days of summer.  Now that July is among us, the sun is not messing around… brace yourself for hot sunny days!  Kids are playing outside, friends are hosting barbecues, the pools are open, and families are going on weekend trips to the lake.  It’s only a matter of time before the kids are splashing around and your pup decides to jump in… or, they could have an accident and fall in.  We want to make sure everyone is safe and has taken the right precautions before your dog goes for a swim. 
It is extremely important dogs know how to safely get out of the pool.  Unless you are constantly by their side, your pup needs to be thoroughly trained on how to get to the steps from any location in the pool.  Life vests for dogs are always a great idea, but they are safety nets and you can’t completely rely on them.  It only takes a few seconds to turn your back, get distracted, or walk away and return to find your dog in distress.  Teach your pup to reach the steps from anywhere in the pool by putting them in the water and guiding them to the exit.  Make sure to offer treats or toys when they get there so they know they are doing a good job!  You want your dog to view reaching the steps as a great success.  Eventually, reaching the steps becomes the reward!
Some people have the misconception that all dogs are naturally great swimmers because they can doggie paddle.  Most dogs can instinctively do a version of the doggie paddle if they find themselves in water, however, that doesn’t mean they can swim or stay afloat.  Some dogs can swim like a pro, some dogs can be trained to swim, and some dogs are just not meant to be in the water.  Dogs that are born to swim usually have long, strong limbs or may have swimming in their genes and are bred to swim for hunting purposes.  On the other hand, dogs with short legs may not be able to perform a strong enough doggie paddle and struggle to stay on the water’s surface.  Breeds with short faces, such as bulldogs and pugs, have trouble keeping their snout out of the water.  Smaller dogs may enjoy swimming but it is important to keep an eye on them because they can get colder faster or can easily panic by becoming overwhelmed.  With the proper supervision and training, any dog can learn to swim. 
Like humans, dogs can have sensitive skin.  Chlorine, saltwater, and pool chemicals can cause dogs skin to become irritated, develop rashes, or bad skin reactions.  Swimming also increases their chance of getting an ear infection.  Bacteria and yeast can cause problems in your pup’s sensitive ear canals.  Clean and dry their ears with a towel immediately after a swim.  Galloway Village Veterinary recommends using an ear cleanser after swimming to prevent infections. We are happy to recommend a good quality cleanser for your pup! 
Don’t overlook your dog’s hydration while out in the hot sun.  The heat in the summer months can certainly sneak up on you.  Due to the chemicals in the water, it can be dangerous for your dog to consume too much pool water.  Saltwater pools can also cause electrolyte problems if enough water is consumed.  Dogs, like kids, need to be supervised.  With the summer heat, combined with lots of outside activity, it is important to make sure your dog has a water bowl located near the poolside.  The more they drink from their water bowl, the less likely they will drink the chemicals in the pool water. 
For those of you who frequent the lake with your family over the summer months, there are plenty of safety precautions to take for your pup.  Life jackets are always a good idea on the dock or on a boat ride.  Be extra cautious when you are around other boats, as your dog can blend into the water if they aren’t wearing a life jacket.  The bacteria in lake water can cause ear infections and irritation in your dog’s skin, so cleaning your dog’s ears and rinsing off after swimming in the lake can help prevent this.   If your pet uses topical products or medicated collars for fleas and ticks, the medicine could potentially wash away in the water. Consider switching to oral products during the summer months. Galloway Village Veterinary would be happy to recommend an oral medication for your pup this summer!
Dr. Kurucz's 8-month-old great dane enjoying the water in the poolDr. Kurucz has an 8-month-old Great Dane named Holly, and her family is always trying to entice her to swim with them.  Since Great Danes aren’t natural swimmers, they never leave Holly unattended around the pool.  If they are lucky, she’ll get on the tanning ledge in the shallow end and splash around.  She certainly loves to cool off on a hot day and Dr. Kurucz’s family loves to see her having fun!  While the summer months are conducive to finding new activities to engage in with your dogs, taking the precautionary safety steps is something you can’t skip out on.  Seeing the joy in your pup’s face when they get to cool off and play with you in the pool will be worth it.  Be safe with your pets this summer, and happy swimming!

Have a fun and safe Fourth of July from your friends at GVV!