Dogs and Water Safety

Medically Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on August 07, 2022
3 min read

Water can be a great source of fun for you and your dog. Before you take your pooch out for a paddle, though, make sure you know how to keep things safe.

You might think canines are natural-born swimmers, but that isn’t always the case.

There’s no sure way to gauge your pal's swimming skills until you introduce them to H2 O and teach them the basics:

  • Choose a quiet, shallow spot in the water.
  • Keep your dog on a leash while they learn.
  • Get into the water with them.
  • Start at the edge of the water, and stay as long as they enjoy it.
  • If they don't want to go, don’t force them in -- especially if it’s a deep spot.
  • When your dog begins to paddle with their front legs, lift their hind legs to show them how to float.

The younger your buddy is when you teach them to swim, the better. Keep the lesson positive and stress-free for them.

While you enjoy the surf with your pal, keep these tips in mind:

  • Watch out for strong currents and riptides, which can take you both out to sea. Even the best swimmer can be in danger when seas are rough.
  • Don’t let your dog drink ocean water. It can make them sick. Bring fresh H2O with you to keep them hydrated.
  • Keep your pal away from fish that have washed onto the shore. They may smell great to them, but they can make them ill.


Got a swimming hole in your backyard? Keep it Fido-friendly with these steps:

  • Put a fence around it to keep your dog out when it isn’t time to swim.
  • Keep a sturdy cover over it when you aren’t using it. It should be made of a material that lets rainwater drain through. Dogs can drown in puddles on top of pool covers.
  • Teach your dog how to get in and out. Make sure there are steps or a ramp they can use to climb out.
  • Check the water temperature before letting your dog take a dip. Only a few breeds can handle extra-cold water. 


Keep these tips in mind when you’re at Mother Nature’s water park:

  • Get your dog a life jacket, especially if you take them out on a boat or a dock.
  • Steer clear of bodies of water with blue-green algae. It can make your buddy sick.
  • Check the current of a river or a creek. Make sure it isn’t too strong to let your dog swim.
  • Keep your pal away from fishing gear. Sharp hooks and barbs can hurt them.


No matter where your pooch makes a splash, follow these pointers:

  • Rinse them off after they have been in any type of water. Seawater minerals, salt, chlorine, algae, and pollution can irritate or damage their skin and fur.
  • Remove their flea collar before they swim. Water can wash off its active ingredients.
  • Dry your dog’s ears completely to prevent an infection. Try an ear cleaner that has a drying agent in it.
  • Learn canine CPR. Mouth-to-nose resuscitation and chest compressions could save a dog’s life in an emergency.
  • Never leave your pal alone in the water.