FAQs about taking your dog swimming

It’s never fun to leave your pup at home while you enjoy a day on the river, the lake, or the ocean. Luckily, many of these places are dog-friendly, so why not clip on Spike’s leash and take him with you? It can make for a fun day, but before you head out to the open water, you need to know a few dog water safety tips.

Do dogs need special swim attire?

Spike doesn’t need a Speedo, but a life jacket is a wise idea. Yes, 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, and 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 so if you get separated, whoever finds Spike can contact you right away. If you use a flea collar, make sure it’s waterproof; if not, remove it.

How should I introduce my dog to the water?

Getting thrown in the deep end without a float 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 take to the water immediately, but others need time to get used to it.

Lead your dog into a shallow, calm area of the water. Watch for signs that Spike is scared:

  • Ears back
  • Panting
  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Eyes rolled back

If you notice any of these signs, let Spike get out of 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.

Is drowning the only danger when taking my dog swimming?

Drowning is a big concern when you have your dog in the water. You should know how strong the current is and whether the area is prone to riptides.

However, drowning isn’t the only concern. You need to be conscious of nearby fishers or boats – you don’t want to have to take Spike to the emergency room with a fish hook in his skin! Put your dog on a leash when he isn’t fetching items from the water so he doesn’t run anywhere he isn’t supposed to go.

The water isn’t the only danger, either. Be aware of broken glass, dead fish, beached jellyfish, fish hooks, snacks left unattended, and other dangerous items on the shore.

If you have a backyard pool, keep it fenced or covered. Dogs 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.

My dog can drink the water he swims in, right?

Even though you’ll be in water, Spike needs fresh, clean water for drinking. It’s impossible to know how clean the water is, even in a fresh water river, and swimming is an exhausting activity.

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

Can I just let my dog shake himself dry?

When you get home, 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!