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Summer Fun: 8 Water Safety Tips for Dogs

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Summer is in full swing, and there’s nothing like cooling off on a hot, sunny day by enjoying the pool, lake, or ocean with our furry friends. 

While fun is always a priority, safety should always come first. Keep reading for some of our favorite dog-friendly water activities and expert tips for keeping your pup safe this summer.

Can All Dogs Swim? 

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are natural-born swimmers. Whether your dog loves the water or avoids it at all costs, it’s important to have an understanding of his swimming abilities before you make plans to splash around together on a hot summer day. 

Some breeds instinctively feel very comfortable in the water—Golden Retrievers, Portuguese Water Dogs, and Irish Water Spaniels, for example. Others may be a bit more reluctant to swim, but can still be taught. 

Personal preferences aside, some dogs simply aren’t built for swimming due to their proportions and weight distribution. If you have a Bulldog, Pug, or Dachsund, for example, you may want to plan on enjoying the water from a distance.

Dog-Friendly Water Activities 

Not only is swimming a great way to cool off on a hot day, but it’s also a fun form of low-impact exercise for dogs with joint issues. Even if you and your pup won’t be fully immersed, there are plenty of fun ways to enjoy the water together. 

Some of our favorite dog-friendly water activities include: 

  • Swimming in pools, lakes, rivers, or oceans 
  • Splashing through a backyard sprinkler system
  • Lounging in a kiddie pool
  • Boating with kayaks, paddle boats, or motorboats
  • Playing fetch—either with diving, or retrieval in shallow water 

There are plenty of ways to get creative with summer water activities; just make sure you’re not pushing your pup past his limits and keeping it fun!

8 Water Safety Tips for Dogs

Regardless of your preferred dog-friendly summer activities, keep the following water safety tips in mind: 

1: Make sure your dog knows basic commands. 

Before exploring unfamiliar terrain or open water, be sure that your dog knows and will respond to commands such as “come here” or “with me” before wandering off too far.

Use commands such as “leave it” or “drop it” to keep your dog from eating gross and/or toxic items he may have discovered in the water, too. 

2: Check the water conditions. 

Before letting your dog jump into any body of water, check that it’s a comfortable temperature. If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your dog. 

Look around for any safety hazards, too: algae, boats and jet skis, sharp fishing hooks, currents and riptides, or water-loving wildlife. 

3: Bring a canine life jacket. 

Even if your dog is an avid swimmer, it’s a good idea to have him wear a doggy life jacket, just to be safe. Even the most avid swimmers can panic or become fatigued, and the life jacket will ensure that your dog’s back remains level with the water at all times. 

4: Swim in short spurts. 

Keep swim sessions short, ensuring that you don’t push your pup past his limits. Every 10 minutes or so, take a rest break to avoid wearing your dog out too much. This will also help to keep him from accidentally gulping dirty water.

5: Bring plenty of drinking water. 

Even if you’re surrounded by water, it’s important to pack your own fresh, clean drinking water for your dog

If he’s thoroughly hydrated, he’ll be less likely to drink from the lake, river, ocean, or pool, which can be full of not-so-healthy algae, salt, or chemicals. 

6: Keep an eye on your dog. 

No matter how independent and confident your pup may be, it’s important to keep an eye on him at all times. Use commands to keep him close by; you may even want to keep him on a water-friendly leash

(In fact, some public swimming areas may require that your dog remains leashed at all times.) 

7: Rinse your dog thoroughly. 

After swimming, thoroughly rinse off your dog, or even give him a full-on bath. Otherwise, seawater minerals, salt, chlorine, algae, and more can irritate his skin and damage his coat.

8: Keep your dog’s ears clean and dry. 

Whether you’ve been swimming or splashing through a sprinkler—or even if you’ve recently given your pup a bath—always take extra care to thoroughly clean and dry your dog’s ears afterward to keep ear problems at bay. 

Pet Honesty’s easy-to-use OTIC Ear Cleaner and Drier is a gentle way to clean and dry your dog’s ears, made with a carefully-formulated pH balance to target itchiness, odors, redness, and more to keep your pup’s ears feeling clean and fresh.