Splish Splash: Pool Safety For Your Pooch

Posted on: 6 June 2016


If your water-loving canine companion hears the laughing and splashing sounds that characterize summer in the backyard, he will undoubtedly be eager to join in the fun. Some dogs do not even wait for an invitation and happily take the wet plunge as part of their daily outdoor routine. Swimming pools can be fun for the entire family, but as with children, safety guidelines must be followed to keep your pup safe.

Lifeguard On Duty

Your dog should only have access to the pool when a responsible family member is present to supervise his aquatic activity. This means that if you are letting him outdoors to eliminate first thing in the morning, take your morning cup of java on the porch if your exuberant Labrador retriever insists on taking a dip. If you do not have the time to closely watch him, then take him out on a leash to keep him out of the pool. If the family is enjoying some water fun in the sun and it's time to come out of the pool, your dog should come out as well. Never leave a dog unattended in a pool for even a few minutes, no matter how much fun he is having or how adept his swimming skills may be. Before teaching your dog to fetch pool toys, be sure to teach your dog where the steps are and how to get out of the pool.

Vested Benefits

You may only think of a life vest as something that should be donned when boarding a boat, but it should also be considered required apparel for your dog whenever swimming pool recreation is on his agenda. By outfitting your dog in a canine life vest, you will gain the following benefits:

  • It adds extra floatation if your dog is not a champion swimmer or if he starts to tire out.
  • The bright colors of most life vests help to keep dogs highly visible for easy monitoring.

You can purchase life vests for your dog at most large pet supply retailers. Bring your dog along when you go shopping to ensure that you choose the correct size. Remember that the life vest is not a substitute for supervising your dog while he is paddling around in the pool.

CPR Can Save Your Dog, Too

Many parents of young children take the initiative to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in case of a drowning accident in the backyard swimming pool. CPR can save your dog's life  as well in such a scenario. Ask your local animal hospitals, shelters, animal welfare organizations or Red Cross chapter if they offer courses on CPR for dogs. Just as with human victims, CPR must be performed correctly for the most favorable outcome, and it is essential to learn the proper CPR technique for dogs.

Access Denied

If your dog spends a lot of his time outdoors without supervision, it is imperative to bar his access to the pool. Consider installing a pool enclosure or an invisible fence around the perimeter of the pool. Do not count on a tether to keep your dog safe. It may appear to keep him at a safe distance from the pool, but if something excites him enough, he could potentially pull the base of the line just enough to fall into the pool and drown as he struggles to free himself.

Remember to Monitor

Even when your dog has happily joined the family fun in the pool, remember to specifically check on him frequently. Some tips to keep in mind during swim sessions include the following:

  • If your dog is panting heavily or showing any signs that he is tiring himself out, it's time for a break. Move him to a cool location and offer him fresh water.
  • Monitor senior dogs extra closely. While swimming is excellent exercise for arthritis, these dogs can tire and feel achy more quickly. Failing eyesight can also pose a safety hazard if your older dog has trouble finding his way to the pool's exit point.
  • Do your best to discourage your dog from drinking the pool water. Offer him small amounts of fresh water to drink instead.
  • If your dog starts to panic because he cannot find the exit or his footing, he can tire and drown quickly. Reassure him and physically guide him to the exit.
  • When swim time is over, give your dog a quick rinse with the garden hose to remove pool chemicals, and dab his ear canals with a dry towel, cotton ball or paper towel to remove excess water and prevent ear infections.

Remember that while some breeds, such as Labrador retrievers and Portuguese water dogs, are natural swimmers and love the water, others, such as pugs and basset hounds, are less skilled at swimming or may be apprehensive. The sound of your family's laughter and the sight of a beach ball being tossed about may coax any dog to the water's edge, but never force your dog into the pool if he seems unsure. To help him feel included in playtime without having to vacate the refreshing pool yourself, toss his favorite toy into the yard from the pool's edge for him to fetch and bring back to you.

Following the aforementioned guidelines will ensure enjoyable and safe backyard pool fun for all throughout those hazy days of summer.

For an animal hospital, contact a clinic such as Lamb's Gap Animal Hospital.