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Q. My dog swims in our pool all the time. I use a special shampoo to remove chlorine from my hair after swimming — is there something like that for my dog's fur?
A. I checked with a couple of colleagues and with some pool-care experts just to confirm my hunch that all you need to do is rinse your dog off thoroughly with the hose after swimming — no special shampoo needed. While a good rinse is never a bad idea, even that might not be necessary with a home pool that’s properly cared for. Backyard pools are typically treated with lower levels of chemicals than is the case with public or health-club pools. Dogs don’t swim in these busier pools except on the occasional “dog days” fund-raisers some public pools have just before they shut down for the season. Even if your dog attends one of those events in a higher-chlorine pool, it’s a one-time deal and his fur should recover just fine with a thorough rinse.
Rinsing with clear water is also recommended for dogs who’ve been swimming in the ocean, with the added bonus that you’ll be rinsing the sand off along with the salt water.
There are bigger problems than chlorine-ruined fur when it comes to swimming. Many dogs love to swim, and some are lucky enough to have their own swimming pool. The biggest concerns about pools are accidental drownings, which is why your pool should be fenced off from your yard and should have a pool alarm and an escape ramp. Your dog should also be discouraged from treating your pool like a water dish — another good reason for the fence.
Not all dogs can or want to swim, and even those who swim well can drown if you’re not careful to watch for tiring or for hazards such as tides, currents or underwater dangers. While Chesapeake Retrievers, Newfoundlands and other water dogs typically tolerate cold water for longer than people do, they need to be monitored as well, especially when they’re wet on the bank in freezing conditions. Get them dried off and out of the icy wind. In the summer, watch for “blooms” of blue-green algae in lakes — neither you nor your pet should swim in such water, since it can be deadly.
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