Is it safe for my dog to drink out of the swimming pool?

Q: My dog likes to drink out of my swimming pool. Is this safe? What if it’s a salt system, instead of chlorine?

A: Occasional drinks from a well-maintained pool are not harmful to most pets.

Chlorine test of Chandler tap waterAh, the “big backyard water bowl!” We get this question all the time, and we’re happy to say that a well-maintained pool poses no threat when your pets drink from it. In fact, a properly-maintained chlorine pool contains no more chlorine than the tap water at our home in Chandler. And I know, because I tested it! As the photo the left shows, our city water has about 1.5 parts per million of chlorine–which is probably why we all drink from the reverse osmosis tap!

Drinking sea water can be dangerous for sure, but properly maintained “salt water” pools have about 1/10th the salt of sea water. Increased salt intake can make dogs drink and pee more (which might lead to accidents in the house), but as long as it’s not the only source of water, drinking from salt water pools is generally safe, too. Dogs with heart disease, kidney disease, and those eating salt-restricted diets shouldn’t drink from saltwater pools, though.

Even though chlorine is safe at normal levels, the pool should never be your pets’ only source of water. Pets should be prevented from drinking from pools immediately following “shock” application and whenever additional chemicals like algaecide are in use.  And if your pool isn’t well maintained, keep pets out; algae, excessive chemicals, and other things in poorly maintained pools can cause trouble!

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  1. mark leiby says:

    i have a 6yr. old dobie who had a litter of three puppies one was born dead with a 2 inch long bare strip down his spine to the back bone , the runt was born alive but died 3 days later , the third had to be taken out of the mother and was dead when taken out. 6 months later the mother is dying of bone cancer can drinking pool water cause all these problems in my dog

    • Dr. G says:

      Hi Mark,

      I’m sorry to hear this has been happening to your dog. Drinking properly-chlorinated pool water should pose no significant health risk to most pets, particularly if it’s not their only source of fresh water. This said, I can’t speak to the possible dangers associated with other pool chemicals, such as algaecides. Dr. G


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