Dog water safety: 5 ways to keep your pup safe while he swims


Dog runs with stick in ocean

When you go to the beach, the lake, the river, or your backyard pool, it’s always fun to bring your pup along for a swim or kayak ride. But before you leash up Spike and head out to your favorite watering hole, learn some dog water safety tips.

  1. Get your pup the proper attire.

No, Spike doesn’t need a Speedo, but itis smart to strap a life jacket on him. Many dogs are natural swimmers, and even a hesitant dog is likely to swim if they’re in an emergency situation in the water.  However, you want to keep your fur-baby safe. Providing him with a life vest is the best way to do that, in case he gets stuck in the water for a long time, or in a fast current.

Also be sure your dog is microchipped and wearing a collar with tags or contact information on it – if Spike gets away from you, he needs the resources to tell someone to phone home. If you use a flea collar, make sure it’s waterproof; if not, remove it.

  1. Introduce your dog to the water slowly.

“My dad just threw me in the deep end and I figured out how to stay afloat” is a funny movie trope when it comes to learning how to swim, but that’s not how to introduce Spike to the water. Some dogs are naturals in the water and take to it immediately, but some dogs need time to get used to it.

Start by leading your dog into a shallow, calm area of the water. If you’re in a pool, use the top step or two; at a natural body of water, start out on the bank. If Spike gets scared – ears back, panting, whining, barking, eyes rolled back – don’t force him to stay in the water.

Once your dog is comfortable in the water and begins to paddle on his own, help him into slightly deeper water to try out his swimming skills. Always keep an eye on your dog – never leave him unattended in the water.

  1. Know your surroundings.

If you take Spike to the beach or a river, know how strong the current is or whether the area is prone to riptides. It’s easy even for a full-grown human to get swept away, so your 60-pound dog won’t fare any better. Be conscious of nearby fishers or boats.

If your dog likes to fetch items from the water, check the water conditions where you are throwing your toy. When playtime is over, put a leash on him straight away – you don’t want Spike running off into a strong current or someone’s fishing line.

Be on the lookout for items on the shore – broken glass, dead fish, beached jellyfish, fish hooks, snacks left unattended. There are many interesting-smelling items on the beach or riverbank. It’s up to you to keep Spike away from items that are dangerous for him to step on or eat.

Finally, if you have a backyard pool, keep it fenced or covered. Dogs are crafty, and they escape even when you think it’s impossible. If they do, they can fall or jump into the pool and may not be able to get back out. Even a flexible pool cover can pose a danger to dogs if rainwater collects in it and your dog runs on it and gets tangled in it.

  1. Keep fresh water on hand.

Swimming is an exhausting activity, and just because you’re in water doesn’t mean Spike doesn’t need fresh water to drink. It’s impossible to know how clean the water is, even in a fresh water river, so it’s best to keep fresh water on hand for your pup.

And if you plan to be out for the majority of the day, have food and treats for your pup as well!

  1. Rinse and dry off once you’re home.

Once the water fun is over, rinse Spike off to make sure any pool chemicals, lake algae, beach salt, and everything in between comes off his fur. Dry him well, including his ears to prevent ear infections. Check him thoroughly for sticker burrs, or other items caught in his fur or in between his paws.

Taking your dog swimming is great fun for you and him, done safely. Follow these tips, and you and Spike have a summer of fun ahead of you!

If you have questions on water safety, call us at 830-620-1100.