A larger dog cooling off on the side of a pool, wearing a harness.

Water safety tips

Team Walmart Pets

June 8, 2021


min read

When the sun’s shining and the surf is swirling, dogs just want to hang ten with us on the waves. But if you’re not prepared to prevent the perils of doggy paddling, you may set yourself up for a wipeout. Here’s what you need to know before letting your dog swim in any body of water.

Staying safe at dog friendly beaches

Supervise their swimming

Splashing in the surf is tons of fun, but even strong swimmers need supervision when they take to the waves.

Dogs at play can be overwhelmed by exhaustion more quickly than you think, and strong currents can put a tired pup in danger of drowning. Always outfit your pet in a dog life jacket, and don’t let them swim in deep waters. 

Be mindful of their drinking

If your dog takes to swimming in the ocean, they will no doubt ingest salt water. A little bit can upset tummies for a day or two, but if your dog ingests large amounts, they are in for more trouble. Salt can disrupt a dog’s electrolyte balance and cause dehydration, brain damage, kidney failure or death. Be sure to bring plenty of fresh water for your furry friend to discourage sipping on saltwater. 

Save their skin

Salt and sand can be drying and irritating to a pet’s skin. Add in hours of sun exposure, and you could have one uncomfortable pup. Never forget that pets need dog safe sunscreen! And, after a day of play, rinse your pooch with fresh water to remove the salt water and sand. This will also help soothe their skin

Dry off your soggy dog

After a long day of swimming, you’ll want to make sure your dog is nice and dry before they soak the insides of your car. All you need is a pet towel. And if your dog has long hair, you’ll probably only be able to get them dry to a point. In that case, consider getting a car hammock, which covers your seats with a dog-friendly, washable cloth.

Pool safety for dogs

Nothing beats a backyard pool for keeping cool when the sun is blazing. But while a dip in the pool may seem safer than ocean swimming, there are still pet health woes in the H2O.

Teach your dog to exit the pool

Your best bud does not instinctively know how to get out of the pool, and failing to teach him can really sink your fun. Train your dog to find the stairs so he can always exit the pool safely and NEVER let your pet swim in the water without supervision.

Check the chlorine levels

Because moisture gets trapped in your puppy's fur, chlorine in the pool water can irritate their skin and eyes, putting them at risk for infections or skin rashes. Be sure your pool is properly maintained, and check that the level of chlorine and chemicals is minimal. Salt chlorine generators and supplemental sanitizers can help reduce chlorine use for safer swimming.

Put away pool chemicals

Algaecides, antifreeze and clarifiers are corrosive and dangerous, and their sweet odor can be tempting to pets. If ingested, they can cause mouth ulcers and damage the GI tract with life-threatening punctures. Ensure all pool chemicals are properly stored and locked well out of paws’ reach.

Staying safe at dog friendly lakes

There are few places more breathtaking than a lake, but the peaceful surroundings can lure you into feeling too secure. Beware these dangers lurking beneath the surface:

Avoid murky waters

Lake water can be clouded and muddy, making your view of what’s in the water nearly impossible to see. Fallen tree branches and debris can pose the risk of impalement or other injuries to your dog. As much fun as it is to watch him fly high, don’t let your dog jump off the dock into murky waters.  

Swim in flowing water

Stagnant water sources, which means non-moving, unlike a river or stream, are where toxic algae and brain-eating amoeba thrive. Blue-green algae can cause skin irritations, diarrhea and vomiting, liver and nervous system damage, it can even be fatal. If you wouldn’t let your kids swim in the water, don’t let your canine best friend go swimming. Always heed local warnings and stay away from stagnant water.

Watch out for wildlife

The Great Outdoors is home to a host of local wildlife. An unlucky pet can come nose to nose with snakes, alligators, snapping turtles and even bears. Don’t let your dog nose around holes in riverbanks or lakeshores.  

Learning pet CPR

To help your pet survive an emergency drowning situation, it’s critical you learn how to give a dog or cat basic CPR. No matter where you splish, splash or swim this summer, take a few minutes to assess the situation to prevent accidents before you dive in.

ABCs of pet CPR

  • Airways: Open your pet’s mouth and remove any debris from the airway.
  • Breath: Close her mouth and cover the nose with your mouth to blow air into the lungs.
  • Chest: If the pet has no heartbeat, use one or both hands to compress the chest firmly while they lay on their side. Small dogs and cats: 20-25 breaths per minute; 100-150 compressions per minute. Medium and large dogs: 12-20 breaths per minute; 80-120 compressions per minute.

Pet Safety

Photo by Anna Stampfli on Unsplash