Dog in swimming pool

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Nothing says summer like lounging by the pool. You might not have chosen a home with a pool specifically so your dog could paddle around in it — although if you did, we’re certainly not going to judge you! However, if you live in a home with a swimming pool, it’s important to be sure you’ve created a safe and inviting environment for everyone, including your pup.

If your summer plans involve chilling out poolside with your favorite four-legged buddy, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Dogs should never be left unsupervised in or around a pool — no matter how confident you are in their swimming abilities. And not
all dogs are natural swimmers, especially flat-nosed, barrel-chested
dogs; these pooches may be better off in the shade by the side of the

Safety First

Whether you’ve got a water dog who loves to swim or a pooch who will go in the pool only if he accidentally falls in, safety should be your primary focus. With the right safety products and training,
combined with supervision when your dog is in the pool area, you can
help minimize the risk of accidents, so your dog can revel in some wet
summertime fun.

First, make sure your dog can get into and out of the pool with ease, trainer Mikkel Becker suggests. Teaching your dog to do so on cue, much like you might do when teaching him to climb on and off furniture using cues, is a smart way to make sure he’s familiar with all available exits. Make sure you provide your dog with pet ramps or stairs at different exit points, so he has a variety of solid options to help him get out of the water.

As an added bonus, training your dog to get into and out of the pool on command teaches him to enter the water only under your supervision, which also helps to ensure his safety.

A dog-specific life jacket is a must for even avid swimmers, Becker says. Dogs who love the water, she explains, can be so happy paddling around that they may not realize how tired they are and may have trouble finding the exit once they’re exhausted. If you’ve ever been swimming with a water- and tennis ball-obsessed dog like a Lab, you might be familiar with some dogs’ remarkable ability to just keep going … until they’re completely and totally done.

If the dog will have access to the yard when you cannot supervise him, you will need to put in a safety cover or safety fence. When possible, a permanent, secure fence is the best option — make sure
it’s something your dog can’t jump over or climb. But if that’s not an
option due to the setup of your pool area, consider a removable fence.
However, do keep in mind that not all temporary fences will be able to
stand up to a big, strong dog with sharp claws. So even with that in
place, supervision is key.

Proper Water Protocol

There are two basic types of pools: salt water and chlorine. So is one better than the other when it comes to your dog’s safety? Some pet owners offer anecdotal evidence that salt water is easier on their dogs’ skin than chlorine, but Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, says that ingestion is a bigger issue.

"The biggest concern is for animals drinking a lot of water from the
pool — not lapping the water, but the amount that could be ingested
retrieving the ball over and over again," Dr. Wismer says. "If it is a chlorine pool, the
dog can develop water intoxication (low sodium); if it is a saltwater pool, they can develop hypernatremia (salt

Additionally, when it comes to chlorine pools, you should follow human restrictions regarding how long to keep your dog out of the pool during the shock treatment period, Dr. Wismer says.

Rinsing off after a dip in either type of pool is recommended, but you probably don’t need to give your dog a full bath with shampoo every time he finishes swimming.

And don’t forget: To help protect your dog and have tons of fun in the sun with your pup this summer, pick up the right pool toys and tools!

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