A dog swimming in water while holding a stick in its mouth.

Making a Splash: 10 Things You Must Know Before Taking Your Dog to Swim

Taking a dip in a lake?

Staying cool in a pool? It’s summertime and playing in the water is a must, especially if your dog enjoys jumping in. But before they take the plunge, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

  1. Use your noggin

Those common-sense things you do around the house apply at the lake, too. So remember to bring drinking water and a dish for your dog to drink from like you have back home. Keep an eye on them at all times (even if it’s just the eyes in the back of your head). Staying close to them means you can get to them sooner if something goes awry.

  1.  Go fetch a fence

Have a pool at home? Fence it off so your dog can’t go for a swim unsupervised, when they are not wearing a life jacket. Make sure it’s tall enough so they don’t get any big ideas.

  1. Life jackets + first aid kits

Get ‘em. Love ‘em. Keep ‘em in your car for the whole summer. And for goodness sake, make sure the life jacket fits your dog. You should be able to pull them out of the water by the straps with no problem. Make sure the jacket is a nice bright color that you can pick it out of a crowd. Or at least a pool.

Not sure what to put in your pup’s first aid kit? Check out this handy list!

  1. Clip those nails before you get in

If you’re swimming in a pool, make sure your dog’s nails are trimmed before letting them free on the vinyl. Untrimmed nails can snag the pool lining, which would be uncomfortable for them and expensive for you!

  1. Where’s the way out?

Dogs can’t tell you when they want to regain their land legs, so make sure there are steps, a non-slip ramp or a doggie ladder available to them. A way to exit the water quickly can save a life.

  1. Don’t force your dog to swim

Some dogs aren’t natural swimmers and have trouble keeping their head above water. Never force your pup into the water if they don’t want to be there.

  1. Swim laps: don’t lap it up

Lake, river, pool or ocean—none of this water should be quenching your dog’s thirst. Bacteria and chlorine do not have a place inside their furry bodies, and neither do parasites. Make sure you’re constantly giving them the water you’ve brought so that they don’t get tempted to taste what they’re swimming in.

  1. Don’t let them get away

Some dogs love the water so much, they’ll swim faster than you out into the waves. Keep your dog close by so you can rescue them if they get too tired.

  1. Set aside nap time

Your dog might play until they fall asleep swimming – or become overheated in warm water on a hot day. That means it’s up to you to pull them out of the chaos and make them nap. Give them some shade, make them catch some ZZZs and drink some water. Then send them out well-rested and ready to play like crazy again.

  1. Take care of their skin before and after swimming

Beneath that fur is skin just waiting to get zapped by the sun. Slather your dog in pet sunscreen to prevent irritation by a wicked sunburn. And when water time is done, their coats need attention again. Wash them off immediately to make sure chlorine, salt and other not-so-great things don’t dry in their fur and cause skin problems later.

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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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