Huntsville Pets – Water Safety for Dogs

By: Kristie Franks, MS

We all know it gets excessively hot in Texas. That is nothing new! We know that taking a dip in the pool or pond on a hot day makes it much better. Many of our dogs also love to swim and cool off in the water, but is it true all dogs can swim? What is water intoxication and how does it affect them? Let’s see.

Not every dog can swim. Some have a fear of water and a fear of situations when they feel like they cannot stand on solid ground. In these cases the dogs panic when in deeper water. The more they panic, just like a human swimmer, the faster they will sink. People use to find it entertaining to throw the reluctant dogs into a pool so they would “learn” and instead end up having to rescue many of them from their own fear. If you dog has a fear of getting in deep water, do not force them. You can gradually work on them becoming swimmers by walking them into water where they can wade and then slowly getting them into deeper water. Another thing that actually helps a lot of reluctant swimmer in the dog world is a life jacket. Once they have had the opportunity to be led into the water with the life vests and they realize it makes the more buoyant, they often are happy swimmers. Life vests are also highly recommended for dogs in boats. Though most dogs that do swim are excellent swimmers, they can also tire out if for some reason they would have to get in the water out in the middle of a lake. The life vest just ensures your pet is safe in case of any mishap.

What is water toxicity or water intoxication? This is when a dog, or human, ingests too much water in a short period of time and causes the electrolytes sodium and chloride in the body to become imbalanced and this can cause a myriad of problems, including death in extreme cases. If you have a dog that continually gulps water out of the pool or lake, make the dog take frequent breaks away from the water. Another issue with them gulping pool water is the high levels of chlorine in the water. The high levels of chlorine can cause eye irritation, throat and stomach irritation as well. Always be cautious when your pet tries to drink from a pool. Make sure there is always a fresh source of water nearby and that they know where it is at. When your pet is around water always watch for any of these symptoms that let you know they are getting water intoxication:

  • vomiting
  • wobbliness when walking/ataxia
  • lethargy/collapse
  • convulsions (seizures)

With a few simple precautions, you and your pet can both enjoy cooling off in the water during the heat of the summer! Always, just be aware of humans and pets in the summer heat and around water!