Swim Safety for Dogs: What You Need to Know Before Your Pup Hits the Water

You should never just assume your dog can swim.You should never just assume your dog can swim.With temperatures reaching scorching highs around the country, many dog owners are looking for ways to keep their canine companions cool and safe. A pool or lake is a likely destination for dogs and their owners who love water.

However, contrary to popular belief, not every dog can actually swim, and just throwing a dog into the water and hoping for the best is a safety hazard.

Related: 17 stunning photos of dogs swimming underwater

According to Dr. Marty Becker over at Vetstreet, the dogs that are mostly likely to be unable to swim are dogs with "large, heavy chests in relation to their hindquarters, and they often have short muzzles." Bulldogs, in particular, "sink like rocks."

But even among breeds like Labrador Retrievers, who are known for being good swimmers, not every dog enjoys the water or will attempt to swim, says Dr. Becker:

"Dogs will naturally start "dog paddling" when they find themselves in water, but that doesn't mean that they can stay afloat for any length of time, that they like being in the water, or that they can safely swim."

Related: 12 things every city dog owner needs to know

So what can you do if you want you to teach your dog to swim safely? Start out by taking your dog to a lake (wearing a doggie life vest) and let him see you and possibly other dogs enjoying the water. Try throwing a ball in the water to fetch and gauge his interest. If he's up for it, he'll jump in after a while. If not, don't push it.

And even if your dog is a good swimmer, owners must pay attention to a dog's stamina. Puppies and older dogs in particular tire easily and owners need to be aware of the early signs that a dog is tired.

Although your dog might not want to swim, she can still enjoy some water play in a baby pool or a quick sprinkle, which greatly helps alleviate a dog's overwhelming heat during these dog days of summer.

- By Danielle Sullivan
Follow Danielle on Babble

For 13 ways to keep your pets cool in hot weather, visit Babble!


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