Should I Let My Dog Swim this Summer?

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on June 28th, 2024

First of all, happy Summer Solstice from the BreezeGuard family! If you’re like us, you’re celebrating the start of the summer season with plenty of hiking, biking, paddle boarding, swimming, and general adventuring with your dog.

But, if your dog is as much of a summer warrior as you are, you might be wondering, is it safe for them to get in the water? In this article, we’ll talk about a few considerations for dogs that love to doggy paddle so that you can have a safe summer!

Beware of algae blooms
Over the last few years, there have been reported cases of dog fatalities caused by harmful algae blooms everywhere from Washington to Utah to Pennsylvania. The most common culprit is called cyanobacteria, or commonly known as blue-green algae. 

It can be difficult to spot blue-green algae in a lake, but to be on the safe side, keep your dog out of the water if:

  • The lake is shallow, stagnant, and warm
  • You see an opaque, blue, green, or brown film on the top of the water. This is sometimes described as being paint-like. 
  • You notice a swampy smell
  • There have been reports of blue-green algae in your area (even if a lake doesn’t look like it has algae, a nearby report should be taken seriously.)

Always bring potable water
In addition to cyanobacteria, dogs can get sick from drinking things like toxoplasma, giardia, and other microscopic parasites. They can also become dehydrated or be at risk for sodium overdosis if allowed to drink too much ocean water. 

So, it’s always a good idea to prevent your dog from drinking from natural bodies of water. Of course, with all that exercise, they’ll need to rehydrate, so make sure to bring potable water for them to drink.

Avoid lakes with leeches
Leeches aren’t as serious of a threat as blue-green algae, as they are not known to transmit diseases to our canine friends. But, that doesn’t mean that you’ll want your dog splashing around in leech-infested waters! These little parasites can cause irritation and infection at the bite site, which can put a serious damper on your other summer plans.

Take care of those paws
Depending on where your favorite swimming hole is, you might need to take special precautions to keep your dog’s paws happy and healthy. Very hot sandy beaches, for instance, can burn their paw pads, while rocky river beds can lead to bruising or cuts. 

If you and your pup plan on spending lots of time in water this summer, it might be a good idea to look into water shoes for dogs!

Consider investing in a doggy life vest
Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, a doggy life vest can be a great addition to their summer wardrobe.

One the one hand, a doggy life vest can give your pooch a boost so that they can swim longer without as much effort, i.e. more hours of fun.

 And on the other hand, a life vest can be a crucial device in an emergency situation, such as if your dog drifts away from you or falls out of the boat. 

Stay away from strong currents
Life vest or not, strong currents can be dangerous for your dog. Keep your dog away from swift-moving rivers and beaches with strong waves. 

Often, dogs don’t realize that they can’t navigate a strong current until it’s too late, so it’s our job to keep them safe!

Maybe stay out of the pool
There are conflicting opinions on whether chlorinated pools are safe for dogs to swim in. Because the level of chlorine is so low in swimming pools, some experts say that your dog should be fine, especially if they’re not putting their head underwater or ingesting any water.

Others say that dogs can be at risk for skin irritation from the chemicals in pool water. If your dog is typically sensitive to allergens, the swimming pool is probably not where you want them to spend the summer!

Give your pup plenty of rest breaks
Swimming is such a wonderful activity for your dog. Not only will they be thrilled to be splashing around in the water, but they’ll also reap all the benefits of this low-impact form of exercise!

That being said, because swimming is so fun, it is possible for your dog to overdo it. You can prevent overexertion or exhaustion by calling your dog out of the water from time to time so that they can have a rest. Make sure to provide them with a shaded area with fresh water so that they can enjoy some high quality recovery!

Make sure Fido is nice and dry before bedtime
If you’ve noticed a funky smell coming from your dog after a long day at the lake, it’s possible that they developed a fungal or bacterial infection as a result of trapped water in their fur. 

Prevent it by rinsing them off with clean water (if available) and giving them a good towel down before getting in the car (this will help to cut down on the wet doggy smell in your car, as well!) and driving with the windows down. Of course, you’ll want to keep your pooch safely in the backseat when you have the windows open so make sure that you have your BreezeGuard Screens installed!

If Fido is still wet by the time you get home, consider using a hairdryer on the non-heat setting. Pay special attention to skin folds and ears, as these areas are at highest risk for infection. 

Will you be splashing around with your dog this summer?
With these safety tips for dogs who love to swim, you and Fido are ready for a water-filled summer!

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