5 ways to keep your dog safe in the water


What better way to enjoy a day at the lake, river, beach, or pool than by bringing your dog with you? But taking Spike swimming isn’t always as easy as leashing up and heading out.

Here are some myths and facts about dog water safety:

Myth: My dog doesn’t need anything special to swim

Fact: Spike doesn’t need goggles and swim trunks, but he should wear a life jacket.

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’ll be grateful for the life jacket in case Spike gets stuck in the water for a long time, or in a fast current.

Proper attire also includes a microchip and a collar with tags or contact information etched onto it so if you get separated, whomever finds Spike can contact you right away. Remove any unnecessary items, such as a non-waterproof flea collar, or a sweater

Myth: All dogs love the water

Fact: You must introduce your dog to the water at his own pace, especially if it’s his first time swimming, and if he’s hesitant, start in a shallow, calm area of the water. It wouldn’t hurt to have some treats on hand, either! If your dog is anxious – ears back, panting, whining, barking, eyes rolled back – let him leave the water.

You’ll know Spike is ready to swim on his own once he starts paddling. At that point, you can take him to slightly deeper water. But never leave your dog unattended in the water – keep an eye on him, and when he shows signs of being tired, help him get to shallow water or the shore.

Myth: Drowning is the only danger for my dog when swimming

Fact: Yes, drowning is a major worry when you take your dog swimming. Know how strong the current is and whether the area is prone to riptides, and your dog should be able to reach the shallows whenever he needs to.

However, it’s not the only concern. Be on the lookout for fishers or boats – you don’t want to have to take Spike to the emergency room with a fish hook in his skin! If you let him play fetch, watch where you throw the ball and be confident that Spike will come back to you. When fetch is over, snap the leash back on. 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.

Myth:  Your dog can drink whatever water he’s swimming in

Fact: 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 salt water is a big no-no for drinking!

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

Myth: My worries are over once we’re out of the water

When the fun is over, you should 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!