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Water Safety Tips for Dogs

Pet owners should be vigilant about knowing and following water safety guidelines. Sadly, it’s estimated that 5,000 dogs drown every year. Dog owners can make sure that they and their pets enjoy water playtime together by following these tips.

Keep an Eye on Your Dog

Visually monitoring your dog is the best way to keep them safe in the water. Leaving them unattended or on their own can escalate to a dangerous situation quickly. Make sure you can see them at all times, whether in a pool, river, lake or other body of water. 

Most dogs can swim, but not all of them enjoy it. It’s important to know how your dog will fare in the water. Some breeds with short snouts tend to be heavier in the water, and tire quicker. Puppies swimming might be exceptionally cute, but they can be clumsy and uncoordinated, so keep an extra close watch on them. 

Monitor Water Conditions

This applies specifically to natural bodies of water that have currents or other elements affecting their movement and pace. Complications like undertow or undercurrent can quickly turn a fun afternoon into a dangerous rescue. Also remember that water temperature impacts their ability to swim. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pup.

Take Precautions

If you have a house with a body of water, make sure to have a fence or gate to protect from unsupervised swimming. Make sure your dog has an easy way to get in and out of the body of water, even when supervised. A ramp or stairs are both good options. 

Life Jackets

Life jackets are a great option when spending the day hiking near water or on a boat. They are brightly colored, making your dog easy to spot. They also have handles making it easy to grab or hold on to your pet, if needed. Consider investing in a life jacket if you are planning on frequent water activities with your dog. 

Bring Drinking Water

Swimming is exercise. Even though your dog will be surrounded by water, make sure to bring or have access to clean drinking water. They will need to stay hydrated to enjoy all the fun water activities together. A good rule of thumb is 0.5 - 1.0 oz of water per pound, per day. That makes it easy to plan how much water to have for your dog during the day. 

Take Breaks

Swimming and splashing in the water is no doubt a fun way to spend a hot day. Remember to take breaks often and assess your pup. Make sure they are eating and drinking to stay hydrated and keep their energy available. Take a rest in the shade if you have spent a portion of the day in direct sunlight. 

Wash Off

Both manmade and natural bodies of water have some yucky stuff in them! Be it chemicals or bacteria, it’s helpful to rinse your pup off as soon as you can after being in the water. Not only can these harmful elements irritate their skin, but also possibly their stomach if they lick themselves after. The best option is to bathe your dog right away. If that’s not possible, rinse them off well, then bathe as soon as you get the chance.


Yes, it is possible for dogs to get sunburns. Hairless breeds or short-haired, light-colored breeds are most at risk. Find a dog specific sunscreen (not one made for humans) and apply it 20 minutes before getting in the water. Reapply every 4-6 hours.

Get Creative

If your dog isn’t a good swimmer or doesn’t love being immersed in water, there are other ways to play in water together. Try getting a kiddie pool. Fill it halfway and add in some water friendly toys for them to play with. You could also turn on the sprinklers and run through them together. 

Water activities can be a great way to play and bond with your pup. Take time to follow these safety precautions to keep your dog safe around water.