Swimming with your Pets

By Vanessa Vandersande DVM

Summertime and the living is easy! In Santa Clarita we are blessed with beautiful weather but once the middle of summer rolls around even the most confirmed lovers of the high dessert must admit that it can get terribly hot. Many homeowners in this valley are blessed with pools to cool off in and it it a natural progression to imagine your dog will enjoy cooling off as well. I grew up in a Valencia home where it was unusual if our golden retriever didn’t take a quick dip every day during the summer.

Here are some tips about swimming safety with your dog (we will focus on dogs but to be fair, some cats swim too and these rules certainly apply to cats as well).

Always remember that swimming is a risky and potentially dangerous endeavor. You wouldn’t leave a child unattended near a pool and you shouldn’t leave a dog unattended either. The worst can happen to even the very best swimmer so always remember to supervise your dogs’ swimming.

New swimmers (puppies, etc.) will not naturally know how to swim without training. It is often easier for a dog to learn how to swim from another so find an older dog for yours to pal around with in the water! Natural bodies of water or pools with a beach entry arrangement will usually be less threatening to start with.

Always train your dog how to use the stairs or ladders to get in and out of the pool and reiterate this information repeatedly. Dogs that drown in pools are often dogs that fall in by accident and panic, unable to find a place to get out. If your dog has trouble remembering the exit points it is advisable to always use barrier fences to protect them from drowning.

Skin that is frequently exposed to chlorine can get dry and irritated. Hosing your dog off with fresh water after a swim is a great idea. Also make sure to keep those pool chemicals well balanced!

Dog life jackets are widely available and strongly recommended for weak and new swimmers, as well as dogs with heavy heads such as English Bulldogs. Certain breeds are not well formed for swimming, such as those prone to respiratory diseases so always check with your vet to be sure it is a good idea for your dog to take a dip.

Remember to offer fresh water sources for your dog to drink from before and after their swim. Drinking excessive amounts of pool water can lead to health problems so discourage drinking from the pool and offer a nice clean bowl of water instead! Have a great and safe swim!