Dog Swimming Safety Tips

Summer is here, and for many dog owners, that means plenty of fun water activities. Whether you’re planning a trip to the beach or just cooling off in a backyard pool, it’s essential to keep your dog’s safety in mind. This blog will share valuable tips on keeping your dog safe while swimming. For more detailed advice or to discuss your dog’s specific needs, feel free to call Coronado Veterinary Hospital in Coronado, CA, at (619) 435-6281 or schedule an appointment online.


Golden Retriever Wearing Life Jacket And Holding Toy In Mouth In Swimming Pool. Dog Play With Ball. Dog Swimming.

Understanding Your Dog’s Swimming Abilities

Not all dogs are natural swimmers. While some breeds like Labrador Retrievers and Spaniels take to water seemingly without effort, others may struggle or even fear it. To get started, gently introduce your dog to water in a controlled environment. Here are a couple of different scenarios to help you. 

Starting in a Swimming Pool

  • Controlled Environment: Pools typically offer a more controlled environment for dogs with clear, calm water. This can be less intimidating for your pet.
  • Gradual Introduction: Begin at the shallow end where your dog can feel the bottom. This helps build confidence as they learn the motions of swimming.
  • Ramp Entry: If available, use a ramp for your dog to enter and exit the water easily, which can be less daunting than jumping or being lifted in and out.

Starting at a Lake

  • Natural Setting: Lakes can be more unpredictable with natural currents, varying depths, and unclear water. This might be more challenging for a nervous dog.
  • Footwear: Consider protective footwear for your dog to guard against sharp rocks or other underwater hazards.
  • Close Supervision: Always keep your dog on a leash initially, as open water can have hidden risks such as sudden depth changes or strong currents.

In both scenarios, it’s vital to:

  • Keep the initial sessions short and positive.
  • Always supervise your dog closely.
  • Ensure they wear a life vest, especially in open water or if they are inexperienced swimmers.
  • Monitor their energy and comfort levels closely, adjusting the experience based on their responses.

These tailored approaches help ensure that your dog’s introduction to water is safe and enjoyable, whether it’s in the more predictable environment of a pool or the natural setting of a lake. 

Please keep in mind that if your dog seems anxious or unwilling, never force them into the water. Their comfort and safety should be your highest priority!

Safety Measures for Dog Swimming

When it comes to water safety, preparation is key. Have your dog equipped with a well-fitted life vest, especially in open water or if they’re not strong swimmers. Check the swimming area for hazards like strong currents, deep holes, or dangerous debris.

Assessing Swim Readiness

Before diving into deeper waters, make sure your dog is comfortable with the basics. Start in shallow water and encourage your dog with toys or treats. Always stay close to provide support and make the experience positive.

Choosing the Right Gear

A good life jacket is crucial for your dog’s safety. Look for vests with handles, so you can easily lift your dog out of the water if needed. Bright colors help keep your dog visible to boaters or from a distance.

Health Considerations While Swimming

Swimming is great exercise for dogs but consider their health and physical limitations. Older dogs or those with joint issues might find swimming a gentle and enjoyable activity. However, always monitor their energy levels and make sure they don’t overexert themselves.

Monitoring for Overexertion

Watch for signs of fatigue such as heavy panting, slowing down, or lagging. Let your dog take breaks and give them fresh drinking water to prevent dehydration.

Post-Swim Care

After a fun day of swimming, it’s important to take care of your dog’s coat and skin. Rinse your dog with fresh water to remove chlorine, salt, or lake residues that can cause irritation or dry out their fur. Dry your dog thoroughly, especially their ears, to prevent infections.

When to Call the Vet

While swimming is fun, it’s not without risks. Be aware of the signs of distress or illness related to water activities, such as coughing, lethargy, or changes in behavior. These could indicate water inhalation or other health issues.

Signs of Water-Related Issues in Dogs

If you notice any unusual symptoms after your dog has been swimming, contact Coronado Veterinary Hospital immediately. With prompt attention, we can examine your pet for any problems and treat them accordingly. 

Swimming can be a delightful activity for you and your dog, offering not just fun but also a good form of exercise. By understanding your dog’s abilities, preparing appropriately, and taking care of them before and after swimming, you can ensure many happy and safe swimming sessions. If you have any concerns or need further guidance, Coronado Veterinary Hospital is here to help. Call us at (619) 435-6281 or make an appointment. Enjoy the water safely with your four-legged friend this summer!

About Us

Coronado Veterinary Hospital, a family-owned practice in Coronado, CA, prioritizes the human-animal bond, offering personalized care for pets in the area for over 70 years. With a broad spectrum of services tailored to meet the unique needs of each pet, our team is dedicated to nurturing pets' health with compassionate, comprehensive care.