Summer is coming, and if your pups are anything like Isabella and Penelope, you stand little chance of keeping them out of the water. Regardless of if it’s a lake, ocean, river, or pool, swimming is a great activity for dogs. Not only is it an excellent way for them to keep cool and active during hot days, but it’s also a lot of fun – for your pup and you.
My family spends a lot of time in and around the water. Whether we’re enjoying the pool at my parents’ house, taking the boat out on Lake Norman or Lake Lure, paddle boarding in the Catawba River, or swimming and taking the boat out in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Isabella and Penelope are always out on the water with us.
With my girls being so active in the water, swim safety is critical to me. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of five tips to keep your dog safe while swimming this summer – whether your adventures take you to the lake, river, ocean, or pool!
When your dog is swimming, it’s so important to keep fresh water available for them to drink and stay hydrated. While this may seem like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised how easily water is overlooked while everyone, including Fido, is keeping cool in the water.
This is primarily an issue at the beach. Ocean water is high in salt content so if your pup drinks from the ocean, they’re going to become more thirsty. This is incredibly dangerous as dogs can die from intaking too much salt content.
An easy way to ensure your dog is getting sufficient fresh water while they’re out swimming is to provide ice cubes. Since ice cubes seem like treats, your pup will gobble them up, and you can relax knowing your dog is staying hydrated.
Having access to shade is of the utmost importance on days your dog is enjoying the sunshine and water. Just like with people, the sun is draining, and your dog needs access to shade to take breaks and rest.
If you’re on the beach, invest in an umbrella. If you’re on a boat, pull up the boat’s sun shade. If you’re at the pool, ensure there is a covered patio or umbrella nearby offering shade.
Not only is it important to have a shaded space available for your dog to take breaks, but it’s also essential to regulate body temperature when your dog is wet. When a dog is wet, the water infiltrates their coat, and while the top of their coat dries quickly, it takes much longer for the underside to dry.
This can become dangerous if your dog is out in the sun, particularly if your dog is black or if your dog has a long coat. While your dog’s fur can dry quickly on the top, the water deep within the fur can reach scorching temperatures which can raise your dog’s body temperature rapidly.
Having a shady place for your dog to cool down and dry off is always the safest bet.
If your dog is swimming in moving water, it’s imperative you’re aware of the different currents and the changing tides. While this is a non-issue for the majority of lakes and all pools, this is something dog owners must be aware of when letting your pup swim in rivers and oceans.
Currents can be misleading by appearance. And depending on your dog’s size, your dog might not be strong enough to fight the current. In rivers, there is always a risk of your dog getting swept downstream by the current.
In oceans, you have to be aware of not only the current but the rip current and also the changing tides. Think of how easy it is for the ocean to move you down the beach when you’re out swimming. And think about how difficult it can be to walk out of the ocean when the tide is rolling out, and the sea is fighting to keep you in the water. It’s that much more difficult for your pup!
Part of being aware of currents and tides is to ensure you’re using the proper safety precautions to keep your dog safe when treading in these types of waters.
Always have your dog on a leash while swimming in rivers and oceans. That leash if your lifeline to pull your dog back to safety in the scary scenario of your dog getting sucked under the water. I love this leash from Kurgo. It’s long enough to give your dog room to swim, but it fastens around your waist, so you have an easy way to keep your dog close while you’re both wading in the water.
Regardless of where your dog is swimming, it’s always best to deck them out in bright colors to make them easily seen by other swimmers, boaters, YOU, etc.
When Isabella and Penelope are swimming, I tie brightly colored bandanas around their neck. This way any other swimmers in the water, people on the shore and any boats passing by can easily spot them. With them both being black, they disappear entirely in dark waters (basically, any water that is not a pool).
While I am always with them and watching while they swim, bright bandanas allow me to spot them in the water quickly, and I can take a deep breathe knowing anyone nearby will also see them.
Last but not least, just as life jackets save the lives of people, they also save the lives of dogs. Life jackets not only help dogs stay afloat, but they allow you to fasten a leash to their back or chest rather than their neck. Attaching a leash to the back or chest of a dog while its swimming is much safer than fastening it to a dog's collar.
Life jackets come in bright colors so you can kill two birds with one stone, and they come in all different sizes.
I highly recommend this life jacket by Kurgo. I have one for both Isabella and Penelope because they fit great, they hold up well, and they don’t hinder a dog’s natural swimming technique in the slightest.
Have any questions about the tips listed above? I’d love to hear from you. Send us a message or leave a comment on this post!