Water Safety for Dogs: 8 Things You Should Know

Phoebe Cooper · Jun 19, 2024 · All

Author: Natalie Szymiczek

As summer approaches, it's the perfect time to dive into some important tips for keeping your furry friend safe around water. Whether it's a trip to the beach, a swim in the lake, or a splash in the pool, ensuring your dog stays safe is a top priority.

While many dogs love to swim, some breeds aren't built for it. Many dog owners overlook hidden swimming dangers, so we're here to help you and your pup enjoy the water worry-free. After all, we want your dog to have a paws-itively fantastic time swimming!

1. Never Leave Your Dog Unattended Near Water

Dogs should always be supervised when around water. It may be tempting to let them run off on their own, but even the strongest swimmers can get into trouble unexpectedly. Just like with young children, keeping a watchful eye on your pup ensures they're safe from currents, fatigue, or other hazards. Always be ready to step in if needed, and remember, a little extra vigilance goes a long way in preventing accidents. Plus, you'll get to share in all the fun moments together!

2. Don’t Force Your Dog to Swim

Some dogs, like Labradors and Poodles, are natural swimmers. Others, such as Bulldogs, Shih-Tzus, and Pugs, struggle and tire out quickly. These brachycephalic breeds have flat faces which makes it harder for them to keep their nose up out of the water, and this puts them at a higher risk of drowning. Additionally, breeds with shorter legs, like Dachshunds and Corgis, often find swimming challenging. Never force your dog to swim if they don't want to - let them trust their instincts!

3. Bring Bottled Water

Never let your dog drink pool, lake, ocean, or river water—it can be full of bacteria, algae, parasites, chemicals, or salt that can make them sick. Always pack bottled water for your pup. If they get thirsty, they might start lapping up whatever water is around, so be vigilant. Blue-green algae, commonly found in still water like lakes and ponds, is toxic to dogs and can severely harm their liver.

4. Get Your Dog a Life Jacket

Life jackets aren't just for humans—dogs need them too! Plenty of doggy life jackets are available to keep your pup afloat, especially if you plan to take them boating in deep waters. Look for a life jacket with a handle to help pull them out of the water and a D-ring to attach a leash so they don't jump out of the boat. It's a simple step that adds a big layer of safety for your furry friend.

5. Check Water Conditions

Always check the water conditions before letting your dog get in. Rip currents, undertows, and strong waves can be just as dangerous for dogs as they are for humans. If you're at the beach, look up the conditions online or check with a lifeguard station. They usually use flags: green for safe, yellow for caution, and red for dangerous. Staying informed helps keep your pup safe and ensures a fun outing.

6. Take Breaks

Swimming is very tiring for dogs, and they can’t simply roll over and float easily like humans can. For new swimmers, only allow 2-3 minutes of swimming before taking a break. Experienced swimmers should still have breaks every 5-10 minutes.

7. Rinse Off After Swimming

After swimming in natural bodies of water, rinse your dog with fresh water and ideally give them a bath. This helps remove salt, bacteria, and harmful blue-green algae. If not rinsed off, your dog might lick it later, which can be very dangerous.

8. Check Your Dog’s Ears

Always check your dog’s ears after swimming. Damp ears can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Gently pat them dry and then use a few doggy ear drops with a drying agent to help prevent ear infections. Keeping their ears dry is key to maintaining their ear health and preventing any issues.

9. Add Fish to Your Dog's Diet

Don't forget that you can bring the ocean into your dog's diet without taking them to the beach! Natural Farm's oceanic treats and chews are an excellent way to provide your pup with Omega-3s and protein for exceptional joint, coat, and muscle support.

What To Do If Your Dog Can’t Swim

Not all dogs are swimmers, and that’s okay. If you’d still like your non-swimmer to enjoy some water play, think about purchasing a kiddie pool! You can even put some chew toys in them for added fun, and lounging in the pool will help to cool them off on hot days. You can also spray them with a hose, but just like people, some dogs love this and others can’t stand it!


No matter your dog’s swimming ability, follow these tips to ensure a safe experience for everyone. Don't forget to rehydrate your pup and maybe offer a few delicious treats after swimming! Check out our store for a range of all-natural, healthy, and tasty dog treats to make your summer even more fun!