Swimming Pool Safety for Pets

swimming dog

Pool safety for pets takes center stage during Arizona’s summer months.

Pool weather is here! Many Arizona families let their dogs enjoy a dip in the pool, especially when temperatures soar over 100 degrees. Everyone knows that pools can be deadly for kids, but swimming pool safety for pets gets little mention. Remember, owning a dog is a lot like having a toddler for 15 years. And you wouldn’t leave your toddler unsupervised around the pool without taking any precautions, would you?

Just like children, pets are attracted to the pool it’s hot outside. Preventing a tragedy takes common sense and careful supervision. Limiting pool access, teaching your dog to swim and exit the pool, and using safety tools to prevent a disaster are all ways you can make your pet pool smart and pool safe.

Limit access to the pool

Most cities in the Phoenix area now have laws that require fences around new pools. There are also many options for existing pools.

Another way to keep your pet away from the pool is to fence off a portion of the yard for trips to the bathroom. Then locate your doggie door to open into this area. Keeps your dog safe, and makes waste cleanup easy, too!

Teach your dog to swim and exit the pool

A lot of people think dogs just “know” how to swim. This simply isn’t true. And not every dog swims well, but all are capable of learning how to swim a few strokes until they can find a safe exit from the pool.

Teaching dogs to swim is just like training any other behavior. Don’t just throw them in the pool! They’ll panic just like a child would, and getting them back in the water will be much harder the second time.  You can find a great introduction to training dogs to swim at Karen Pryor Clicker Training, one of our favorite training sites.

Remember that dogs can’t see what’s immediately underfoot, so it may be difficult for them to find the stairs while they’re swimming. A landmark on the deck, like a patio chair, a potted plant, or even a flag will help them find the exit quickly. If your dog is too short to jump out of the pool from the first step, install a Skamper Ramp, which helps prevent pet and wildlife drownings.

Use safety gear

The Safety Turtle and similar alarms feature a water-detecting sensor that fits on your pet’s collar and a remote alarm speaker that sounds when the sensor gets wet. Other alarms detect waves on the water’s surface, but are more sensitive to wind and other disturbances.

Pet floatation vests provide added protection, and are great for times when pets are a part of the fun on the patio but aren’t being closely watched. Just be careful that your pet doesn’t get too hot while wearing these vests!

More useful pool tips:

  • Young and senior pets are generally the poorest swimmers and most likely to fall in
  • Don’t forget that small pets can drown in hot tubs and garden ponds, too
  • Cold pools are dangerous too–especially for pets that are too short to jump out of the water
  • Pool water is safe for pets to drink, but it’s best to provide plenty of fresh tap water nearby
  • Keep your dog’s nails trimmed to an appropriate length and teach good pool manners
  • Use a drying ear cleanser after swimming to reduce the risk of ear infections