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Can Dogs Swim in Pools?

Make your pool safe for your dog

There’s one big question, well two, on our minds as winter starts to warm up and those are:

Can dogs swim in pools? Can dogs swim in pools with chlorine? 

The answer is yes to both of these questions, and not only can they hop in the pool, but it’s also good for them too! This is, of course, with the caveat that there are safety concerns to consider before training your new dogfish. With proper pool care and precautions taken, your pet could be taking home the gold in the dog Olympics in no time.

Before Swimming

Chlorine

Keeping pool water clean will prevent irritation and sickness in both pets and owners. Problems that can arise when chlorine levels are off include swimmers’ itch and red eyes, along with that, without chlorine standing water can make your dog sick if they drink any of it. CDC recommends pH 7.2–7.8 and a free chlorine concentration of at least 1 ppm in pools and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas. That being said, make sure to keep fresh water available so your pup doesn’t get a stomach ache from drinking from the pool. Your pool will need to be cleaned more diligently once you introduce your furry friend. It will require taking extra care when skimming and cleaning out your filter to keep bacteria levels down. Treating your pool twice a week is recommended if you are swimming with your dog frequently, and always keep chemicals somewhere pets can’t get to them. 

Pool Entry

For pools – even those with stairs – a pet ramp is the best way for your pet to enter and exit the pool. Dogs, unfortunately, can’t use ladders like us, and ease of access is a great way to ensure a calm pup who loves the pool and can swim safely. The pool leg kit will attach to the PetStep ramp with simple hand-tightened hardware to create a sturdy incline for your pet.

While you do want easy pool entry for your dog, you do also want to make sure they don’t have access to the water when unsupervised. This can be achieved by a sturdy pool cover that is safe for your dog and you to walk on. Another option is to get a fence to go around the pool area! 

Swimming

Make sure your dog is having a good time in the pool too! If they happen to be a little apprehensive at first, treats are the tried and true way to get those paws wet. At-home training can include things such as life jackets and shallower pools to assist in training. For specialized instruction, consider enrolling in swimming lessons. This is a great alternative to home training and offers an opportunity for new dog friends. The average offerings with most local options include:

  • Group or individual lessons
  • Supervised pool time up to 30 minutes a day
  • General etiquette training sometimes included

If you’d like more info on training to help your dog swim in your pool, check out our other blog post! 

Swimming is a popular substitute for walking for dogs that are getting older and/or experiencing pains such as arthritis. The low-impact activity allows for a full range of motion without the normal pain certain exercises may cause. Not to mention it can switch up the everyday routine in a fun way. While it is a highly recommended activity, it is still a tiring activity so always keep an eye on your pup in the pool to avoid any accidental problems such as overexertion and dehydration. Always keep a fresh source of water full for your furry friend, a cool/shady place for them to rest. 

There are dog breeds that are better equipped for swimming and some that should maybe stick to the kiddie pools. This can be due to size/anatomy, coat, or simply lack of interest. If you’re questioning whether your breed might do well here’s a list of some popular strong and weak swimmers. 

Strong swimming breeds:

  • Newfoundlands
  • Labs
  • Golden Retrievers 
  • Poodles
  • Cocker spaniels 
  • English and Irish setters

Weak swimming breeds:

  • Bulldogs
  • Daschunds
  • Pomeranians
  • Pugs 

After Swimming 

A downside to swimming is the effect chlorine can have on your dog’s hair and skin. Instead of being worried about a green tinge in your hair, the worry is drying out your pup’s skin. It is also best to get as much chemical residue off in between (more frequent) baths. It would not taste good to you and definitely does not taste good to our furry friends. Get into the habit of a quick rinse and dry off not unlike washing sand off after the beach!

If you notice your dog’s skin looking dry after a couple of pool days, it may be time to look into adding more moisture into your dog’s care routine. Some signs to look out for would be increased or excessive itching, dandruff, and excessive licking. Moisturizing shampoos and conditioners are a good first line of action. Bonus points for products with oatmeal to soothe the skin. Adding a supplement such as fish oil to your pup’s diet can help with coat and skin hydration. A vet may need to prescribe a dose of supplement or other medication for more serious cases. 

Tips for caring for a wet dog after swimming

Swimmer’s ear is unfortunately not just a concern for humans. Our dogs can suffer from ear infections when water gets stuck in their ears and bacteria begin to thrive. The dog’s ear does not drain as well as a human’s, so unfortunately ear infections can be a fairly common issue. Regular ear washes and using something soft such as a cotton ball to dab excess water from the ears can be used to protect against doggy swimmers’ ears. Though just in case it does seem like a possibility it’s good to know what to look for. Some pets will try and scratch deep in their ears when they are bothering them or will consistently shake their heads. The affected area could also be red and warm to the touch with a bad odor. Speak to your vet about whether a cone would assist in the healing process while treating an infection. If an infection arises, always go to the vet for proper antibiotic treatment. 

Safe Pool Fun Ahead!

Planning ahead makes for a perfect time to check for any early-season deals. With some motivation, tackling these concerns and setting up your yard before the summer months leaves more time for fun in the sun with your pup! Time to get those paws wet and max out on all the benefits and great memories just waiting to be had. 

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