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Doing The Dog Paddle - Summer Water Safety For Your Dog

Updated on May 16, 2013

Dogs like to swim. Not all dogs do and some, such as bulldogs and pugs are not built for it. Yet, if your dog adores hitting the beach or splashing in the pond or pool, you need to be aware of safety issues. It is a mistake to assume your dog is more than capable of handling him or herself in the water.

Water Safety

If you have a dog, make sure you understand how to keep him or her safe when around water. This applies both to being in and on the water

In the Water

Treat your dog like you would any small or young child. Watch him or her whenever they are around water. This could be a small stream, a larger lake or your pool. Even if you know your dog to be a strong swimmer, keep an eye on him or her.

Be aware of the power of the water. Be sure you know how strong the undertow is. Even the best of swimmers can be pulled under the surface. Unlike humans, your dog cannot call out for help.

If you are in the sea or ocean, keep an eye out for common water hazards. Jellyfish, for example, can sting your dog. Some marine creatures will nibble on paws. Other potential dangers come from certain types of algae. In rivers, lakes and ponds, a plentiful amount of the wrong kind of algae can result in your dog becoming sick or even deathly ill.

Do not allow your dog to drink the water if you are not certain of its quality. While the system of a dog is healthy in many cases, it may not be able to withstand the attack of certain parasites or infections found in contaminated water. As for drinking salt water – this leads to dehydration.


One special area of consideration is the pool. Dogs can easily drown in a pool. If he or she falls into it, it is not easy to escape. The sides are slippery and not made for four-legged creatures to haul themselves out. Dogs cannot get a grip and may panic – frantically scrambling and exhausting themselves.

Take preventive measures. Make sure the dog cannot enter the pool area unsupervised. Make sure the fence around the pool is capable of keeping your dog and other people’s pets (and children) out. Keep the gate closed, install a childproof latch and/or keep it locked. Never allow your pet to be around a pool unsupervised. Accidents happen.

On the Water

If you plan on taking your dog boating or canoeing, do not forget the lifejackets. These safety devices can save you and your dog’s life. If you capsize or the dog falls or jumps overboard, it can save your pet’s life. There are many types on the market including instantly inflatable ones.

Dog life jackets come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Difficulties may occur if you have an English Bulldog or other off-size dog (e.g. longish body, broad chest, short legs and thick neck). Adjustments may have to be made to suit the non-standard breed. Some do come with adjustable Velcro attachments as well as straps, this helps in finding the right fit.

If your dog spends a lot of time on the water or in it, some suggest wearing the vest regularly. Whatever your feelings on dog life vests, do consider their worth. If you choose to ignore them, at least always be vigilant. Watch your dog when he or she plays, runs into or swims in any body of water.


Playing or swimming in the water is part of many-a-dog’s normal existence. For some, summer is the only time they enter the water. Be aware of the conditions of the water. Know whether swimming is banned or restricted due to e-coli count or dangerous undertows. Put on a safety device when you and your companion animal get on board any type of water vessel. Whether your dog is an experienced swimmer, or merely paddles, take measures to make sure he or she is always safe in and around water.


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    • Pamela-anne profile image

      Pamela-anne 4 years ago from Miller Lake

      The first time I seen a dog in a doggie life jacket was about ten years ago it was a little jack russell terrier it was so cute looking in its life jacket! Thanks for sharing take care!