Summertime calls for trips to the cottage and enjoying days on the beach. If you are a pet parent and are looking to take your dog swimming, we’re here to help you with some dog swimming safety measures to enjoy a fun and safe experience.

Don’t Assume They Can Swim - Safety First

While a lot of dogs love the water and can easily teach themselves how to swim, some dogs are not built for the water.

Breeds with shorter limbs like Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Corgi’s, etc, are not able to get the stroke they need to stay afloat. If your dog is dense and full of muscle it might also have a hard time swimming.

You should also be cautious if your dog has compromised respiratory function, such as Pugs and French Bulldogs for example. Their smaller snout might keep them from being able to take proper breaths while swimming. This can cause them to tire easily or ingest too much water, which can turn fatal.

If you’re unsure about your dog’s swimming abilities, let them take the lead. If they want to swim, stay close by, keep them on a leash and use a pet life jacket if possible. Always keep a close eye on them and you might find they are happier to play in puddles or the shore line instead. Considering dog life insurance or a dog wellness plan might be a good idea if you plan on living an active lifestyle with your dog.

Don’t Keep Them In For Extended Periods Of Time

If swimming is one of your dog’s favorite activities they’ll never want to come back inside the house, even if they’re exhausted. If your dog is super excited about the water it might bite off more than it can chew. Thus can be a major hazard if a dog tires out while they are too far from shore as they might not be able to make it back.

Get to know your dog’s limits and the signs they give off when they begin to tire out. It is also helpful if you’re also a good swimmer in the case of an emergency. Other common dangers that can occur if you let your dog swim for extended periods of time are water intoxication and limber tail, which can be extremely painful for your furry friend.

Don’t Let Them Drink The Water

Many rivers, lakes, ponds, and swamp water are contaminated with bacteria and organisms that can be harmful to dogs. A lot of these organisms cause mild diarrhea, but some if ingested, such as Leptospira, can be fatal.

Open bodies of water, especially standing water like large ponds, could be contaminated with pesticides that are harmful to our dogs. If you have a dog with a compromised immune system then you should discourage them from ever drinking outdoor water.

You might have heard the term ‘beach diarrhea’ before. This is caused by your dog ingesting too much ocean water and can be super dangerous. Salt water has an osmotic effect, pulling liquid into your dog’s intestines, causing them to get super sick. This can cause diarrhea, vomiting, both of which can cause dehydration.

Make sure to bring plenty of fresh water for your dog to stay hydrated!

If you visit the ocean often with your furry friend it is worth looking into vet insurance for dogs including routine, dog life insurance, preventative, accident-only, or a mix and match option. This offers you peace of mind in case your dog contracts beach diarrhea or other bacteria from drinking too much outdoor water, and any other emergency medical issues that could arise.

Always Keep Your Eye On Them

Never let your dog out of your sight when near water or when they are already in the water. Even if they are just jumping in the pool, they can still find themselves in trouble or unable to get themselves back out.

Remember that open waterways like rivers, or the ocean have currents that can pull your dog out more quickly than a swimming pool. Before you know it your dog could be swept down the river and have to work 10x as hard to swim back to shore.

If you’re unsure about the strength of the current it is always best to proceed with caution or find another safer place to play in the water. It can be hard to tell a strong current just from glancing at the water. The best thing to do would be to keep your dog tied on a strong, long lead so that you can easily pull them back in if necessary. Investing in a life jacket or harness is the best way to go and you should avoid tying a leash around their neck.

Be Patient, And Follow Their Lead

Never force your dog to go into the water, let them explore and test their boundaries. Help them build trust and slowly try to get them to feel comfortable with you going in and out of the water at the same time they do. Offer support and help carry them at the beginning, or to help grab them when they seem stressed and want to get out of the water.

Get Them A Life Jacket

If you’re boating on the lake or the ocean and want to bring your dog along, a life jacket is an absolute must. Especially if it’s rough waters or busy with people and other boats.

Elderly dogs and juvenile puppies should wear a life vest no matter where they are. A senior dog can tire easily and find themselves unable to swim safely. And with puppies, you never know what they will do and they might jump in the water after a fish or a ball.

When selecting a life jacket for your dog there are a few things it should include:

  • Reflective badges and bright colors so they can be easily spotted
  • Handles for retrieval in case of dangerous circumstances
  • Simple snaps for quick removal and application

Plan Ahead

If you're outside and near water with your dog often, it would be worth talking to your vet. They can prescribe or offer preventative treatments that could keep your dog from getting sick. This includes diseases that can come from the water, as well as the outdoors in general, such as treatment for ticks and fleas.

Our Wagmo dog wellness plan offers flea and tick treatment as well as office visits, vaccines, routine blood work, grooming, and other preventive and routine doggy care. You can also mix and match dog insurance and dog wellness plans - it’s so easy! Take our pet coverage quiz today and find your perfect plan. It’s always a good idea to invest in pet health insurance for accidents during new activities such as swimming, preventative care, or emergency visits.