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Do's & Don'ts for Letting Your Dog Swim

As the weather warms and you start to spend more time outside, you may be taking your dog near bodies of water. While some dogs naturally enjoy swimming, they can get in over their heads without knowing it. To help them stay safe, follow the veterinarian-recommended do’s and don’ts here.


Buy a life vest.

Even if your dog seems to be a strong swimmer, a life vest is a must if you’re letting them swim in open bodies of water. This is especially important in situations where a current may be present, such as in rivers and oceans. Pick a life jacket with bright colors and handles, making it easy to spot and rescue them if they get out too far.

Bathe your dog afterward.

No matter where your dog has been swimming, bathing them afterward is always a good idea. If they’ve been swimming in a pool, a prompt bath prevents residual chlorine from drying out their hair and causing skin irritation. If they prefer beach swimming, a bath removes salt that can have a drying effect, and after a dip in the lake, bathing washes out any contaminants and helps you remove pesky hitchhikers like leeches.


Assume your dog can swim.

Even though they have a swim stroke named after them, dogs are not always innate swimmers. While some breeds are bred for water activity, others will struggle to swim well. For example, small breeds like dachshunds can have difficulty propelling themselves with their short legs. If your dog doesn’t show an inclination to swim, don’t push them to.


Let your dog drink the water.

Pond water can be a haven for microorganisms that can be harmful to dogs. One common case is giardia, a parasitic organism that can cause diarrhea in your dog if ingested. To limit the risks, keep your dog from drinking pond water and bring along fresh, clean water for them to drink instead. If they show any abnormal signs after swimming, take them to a veterinarian right away.

Whether your dog loves to swim or fears the water, keep them healthy this summer with a visit to Animal Medical Center in Foley, AL.  Led by veterinarians Dr. John Heilmeier and Dr. Kasey Singley, their team offers pet health services, grooming, and boarding.  We also sell pet supplies to help you keep your dog or cat comfortable at home.  Call (251) 955-5900 to schedule a visit.