Vet Reveals 6 Top Tips For Taking Your Dog Swimming This Spring


With the weather warming up ahead of the bank holiday weekend, taking your dog swimming can be a great form of exercise and entertainment. Whether you’re heading to a dog-friendly pool, a local river, lake or even the beach, the water can provide hours of fun for you and your furry friend. 

However, vets have warned it can be a dangerous experience if you’re unprepared.

While some dogs might be a natural in the water, others can find swimming more challenging depending on their breed. That’s why the team at have provided their top tips to ensure you and your canine stay safe in waters of all kinds.

1. Don’t assume that all dogs can swim 

Don’t assume that all dogs can swim

You might think canines are natural-born swimmers, but that isn’t always the case. Some dogs can’t swim because of the way they’re physically built – they don’t have the ability to swim effectively and this poses a threat of drowning and exhaustion. 

Much of a dog’s ability to swim will depend on its body shape. Brachycephalic breeds, like boxers, bulldogs and Boston terriers have short airwaves, which increase the risk of inhaling water, making them more prone to drowning. 

Other factors that can influence a dog’s ability to swim include a large, heavy chest, short legs and a short muzzle. If your pooch isn’t one of the strongest swimmers, you’ll need to take extra precautions when heading down to the beach, your local river or lake. 

2. Don’t let your pup drink the water 

Don’t let your pup drink the water

When our furry friends are thirsty, they will drink almost anything – and this includes sea, river, pool and lake water. Saltwater from the sea, consumed in small quantities, is usually not harmful and may only cause diarrhoea, but drinking larger amounts can disrupt the fluid balance in your dog’s body, and high levels of salt can be fatal for your dog. 

Lakes, ponds and rivers are often contaminated with organisms that can be extremely harmful to your pet. In mild cases, it can cause diarrhoea, but in severe cases, it can be fatal. It’s essential when swimming to bring a dog bowl and fresh water for your pup to drink.

3. Keep them safe in the sea 

Keep the dog safe in the sea 

Your dog may be a confident swimmer, but big waves and strong tides can be hazardous. Bring along an extended leash so your pup can take a dip in the sea without going too far, and purchase a dog-friendly life jacket to ensure their safety at all times. 

The sea is full of hidden dangers, from sharp shells and rocks to broken glass and washed-up rubbish. All of these items can be dangerous to your dog’s paw pads. Not only can some of the items be sharp and cut your pup, but they can also be dangerous if eaten. They can cause bacterial infections, cracked teeth or intestinal obstructions. 

4. Watch out for blue-green algae 

Watch out for blue-green algae

Dangerous and sometimes deadly, blue-green algae is often fatal for dogs and can cause long term health problems if consumed. It is most likely to thrive in bodies of fresh water such as lakes and ponds, during the warmer months of the year –  because the weather conditions promote the growth of cyanobacteria. 

If your dog takes a quick drink from the water, it could lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, or lethargy due to harmful toxins which can stop their liver from functioning properly. So, it’s important to be vigilant and don’t allow your dog to take a dip in water where algae may be present. 

5. Clean your dog after they take a dip 

Dog playing on the water

Dogs should be bathed after going for a swim, to protect their skin and coat. Swimming pools often contain high levels of chlorine, which drys out the dog’s fur and skin as it removes the natural oils. This can make its coat more prone to knotting and also make their skin itchy. 

When taking a dip in the ocean, lake or river, washing your dog after will help remove any bacteria that collects on their fur and skin. If these toxins aren’t removed from your dog’s skin, they can be ingested when they groom themselves.

6. Practise safety first 

 Practise safety first 

Never leave your dog unattended near water. If your dog has access to a swimming pool at home or while you are on holiday, make sure there is a safety cover or fence. You will also need steps or a ramp that your dogs can easily use to climb in and out of the pool. 

When visiting your local beach or lake, it’s important to teach your dog when it is safe to go into the water and return on cue. You can teach them the basic commands of “stay”, “wait” and “go” so they know when they are allowed to swim. 

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