Below, we outline several potential water safety tips for dogs.
These tips cover different bodies of water, such as home pools, the ocean/beach, and also freshwater bodies (like lakes and rivers).
Of course, take your own precautions and use your own discretion when practising water safety with your dog too.
(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)
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1. Make Sure In Ground Pools Are Fenced & Sealed Off Properly From Dogs At Home
It’s very important to make sure dogs can’t access the pool area at home when they aren’t supervised, or when people aren’t at home.
Dogs can fall in or jump in the pool, and this can especially be problematic if the dog can’t swim, can’t get out of the pool, or even if there’s a cover on the pool and the dog falls under the cover.
To reduce the likelihood of this happening, make sure the pool is properly fenced off.
Also, check the perimeter of the fence to make sure there are no weak spots, and to make sure the dog won’t squeeze through or get through any section of the fence.
2. Assess Your Dog’s Swimming Capability At Some Point Soon After Introducing Them To Water
Some dogs are naturally good swimmers – particularly breeds that were bred to swim.
Other dogs are breeds that likely won’t every be suited to swimming, such as some flat faced or short snout breeds
Make sure you understand your dog’s breed, and your individual dog, and get a good idea of how suited to swimming they are, along with their current swimming capability (i.e. how competent they are at swimming/navigating in water, and also staying above the water)
3. Consider Teaching Your Dog To Swim
Some dogs need to be taught to swim over time, or with practice.
Some people are comfortable with teaching their dog to swim with their own supervision and teaching, whilst others may get the help of a professional for teaching their dog to swim.
But, the aim would be to get a dog to the point where they can support themselves and take care of themselves in the water (without exceptional assistance)
4. Always Be Close To Your Dog In The Water If They Aren’t Strong Swimmers
If you allow your dog in the water and you know they aren’t a strong swimmer, make sure to stay close to them so that you can assist them if they have any issues.
5. Assess Ocean Water Conditions Before Letting Your Dog Go In The Ocean At The Beach
Oceans can have unique hazards and issues such as strong waves, and also tides and rips (that can drag both people and dogs further out to sea).
Pay attention to ocean warnings and conditions before letting a dog go in, and only let them in if it’s safe for them.
6. Assess Other Bodies Of Water To Make Sure They Are Safe To Swim In
Other bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, should be clean and free from other hazards.
For example, they should be safe from water pollution, and also safe from predators and dangerous animals (like snakes, gators, crocodiles, sharks, and so on)
6. Practice Safety When Taking Your Dog On A Boat, Kayak, Or On Other Forms Of Water Transport
A dog should know not to jump off a boat or kayak.
A harness and leash attached to the boat or kayak (and your dog on the other end) may help as a precaution for untrained dogs.
Boats may have their own specific safety practices that need to be accounted for, such as keeping a dog away from fishing hooks, fishing knives/blades, boat motor blades, and so on.
7. Consider Putting A Pet Flotation Device Or Pet Lifejacket On Your Dog
In some regions and on some bodies of water, pet flotation devices and pet lifejackets are required by law
These devices and jackets help your dog maintain buoyancy and stay above the water in the event they can’t swim anymore, or if they fall into a body of water unexpectedly or accidentally.
Some are also appropriately colored so your dog is visible in the water, and also come with a grab handle to make the jacket easier to grab for the owner.
It’s important to pick the right size of flotation device/lifejacket, so, read the product sizing instructions and/or sizing chart before you buy (pay attention to things such as chest girth, neck girth and back length dimensions, as well as adjustable straps)
Some of the popular flotation devices and lifejackets on the market right now might be:
- Kyjen Outward Hound Dog Life Jacket (on Amazon)
- Paws Aboard Designer Dog Life Jacket (on Amazon)
- EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device (DFD) Dog Life Jacket (on Amazon). (for dogs from roughly 15 to 90+ lbs – refer to sizing chart for what size to pick). There’s also the EzyDog Micro Doggy Flotation Device (DFD) (on Amazon) (for dogs under 15lbs)
- Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat (on Amazon)
- Kurgo Surf N’ Turf Dog Life Jacket (on Amazon)
Some considerations to be aware of with pet flotation devices and lifejackets might be:
What sized dogs is the life jacket suitable for?
Does the life jacket run to size, or bigger or smaller than the measurements given by the manufacturer?
What colors does the life jacket come in?
Does the life jacket come with one or two grab handles on the back?
Does the life jacket come with a D ring attachment on the back for a leash?
What are the neck and belly securing attachments made of? Are they clips or velcro or both?
Are the fastening straps of the life jacket adjustable?
Is there are small storage pocket on the life jacket to store small pet items?
Does the life jacket have reflective material on it for added visibility?
Can you remove the flotation material from the life jacket and use it as a normal jacket?
Is there a warranty on the life jacket – if so, how long does it last?
8. Have Fresh/Clean Water For Your Dog To Drink When Out At Sea
Like humans, dogs shouldn’t be drinking seawater.
Bring fresh clean water for them to drink instead.
9. Wash Your Dog Off After Swimming In The Ocean
Not always mandatory, but some owners may wash their dog off after being at the beach, out on the sea, or being in a lake or river, just to wash off salt water or any other substance that may have got on the dog.
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