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If your summer fun plans include a pool and your pup by your side, focus on safety as not all dogs know how to swim. And even if your canine companion is stellar at retrieving from a lake, they might get confused if they tumble into the deep end of a backyard pool.
Let's review pool safety for dogs by assessing your pet's swimming abilities, prepping them for pool time and sharing dog pool float products that keep pets safe.
Does Your Dog Like to Swim?
Is it safe for a pet to swim in a pool that's filled with chlorinated water? The American Kennel Club says yes, but with a few precautions in place. First, see if your dog is interested. Some signs your dog might want to swim include piqued interest when you toss a water toy into the pool, or natural curiosity near the steps leading into the pool. Your dog may also experiment with dipping a paw into the water. If they indicate interest, encourage (never force) your pet to join you in the water by calling and gesturing that it's fine to jump in. Once in, your dog's natural instincts will kick in as they start to doggie paddle. You may have to guide your pet to the nearest exit (steps or a ramp) when they're done since they're still getting familiar with the pool.
The AKC recommends the following for pool-loving pups:
- A quick rinse with the garden hose after exiting the pool to wash pool chemicals and sunscreen residue off their fur
- Towel drying the insides of their ears after their swim to reduce moisture buildup, which can trigger possible ear health issues
- Keeping a bowl of fresh, cold water for your dog to drink next to the pool to encourage them to drink fresh water and not pool water
Pets should be supervised when they're swimming. They, too, can get exhausted and may let out a panicked bark and begin thrashing in the water when scared. Be ready to assist at all times.
Dog Pool Floats, Fences and Vests
Pool safety for dogs begins with ample preparation. First, it's a good idea to prevent your pet from getting into the pool without your guidance. This can be achieved by building a fence with a locking gate around the structure or using a secure child-safe pool cover. You can also install a pool alarm system. When motion is detected around the pool, or the surface of the water is broken, a tone emits (some advanced systems even send a message to an app-based alert system) so you know to check the pool for unintended activity.
When it comes to your dog, ensure that they have these safety accessories:
- Life vest: This straps around your pup much like a dog sweater and keeps the pet afloat. They often come with handles on top so you can easily pull your dog up and out of the water. Life vests are also popular with boaters who take their dogs along for a ride.
- Pool float toy: Some dogs like to be lazy and float on top of the water, just like us! Dog pool float toys are made from durable fabric that can withstand dog toenails and rough play. Never use a pool float with a dog who can't swim or is scared of the water. Instead, let them stay on land where they feel safe and secure.
- Pool ramp: If your pool has ladder-style steps that a pet can't navigate, install a ramp. This allows the dog to run in and out of the water at any time without your assistance.
If your pet is curious about the water, but not quite ready to take a dip in the pool with you, why not get them their own little watery oasis? A small pet pool can easily sit on a patio or in a grassy yard. Let your dog investigate it at leisure, and stay nearby to offer encouraging words and praise. Once your canine companion feels ready for a bigger body of water, do a pool skills test. Fit your dog with a life vest and practice entrances and exits from the water via steps or a ramp. You'll both be making a splash in no time!
Angela Tague is a pet mom and writer living in the Midwest. When she's not making a mess in the kitchen, exploring nature trails with her dog, or attending a yoga workshop, she's writing full-time for multiple lifestyle and technology brands. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn @AngelaTague.