As the summer heat beckons, many dog owners enjoy cooling off by the poolside. While pools can be a source of fun, adventure and relaxation, it's crucial to be aware of the potential hazards they pose to our four-legged companions. One such danger is the ingestion of pool water. In this blog post, we will explore the risks associated with dogs drinking water from a pool and provide valuable insights on how to keep your furry friend safe during those poolside adventures.
Should You Let Your Dog Swim in the Pool?
It's up to you and your family to decide whether or not to let your dog get into your swimming pool. The biggest factors to consider are safety and maintenance. Just like children, dogs must ALWAYS be supervised when swimming, even if it's a small backyard pool.
It is recommended if you have a pool and do not have it covered, always be outside when your dog is around the pool or has been let out to relieve itself, so that they do not jump in unattended.
Not all dogs are naturally good swimmers, and if some dogs fall in they may not be able to figure out how to get out. So, if you do decide to work on swimming with your dog, you must take things slowly and adapt to your pup’s needs. Some breeds just simply cannot swim well.
While the Basset Hound, Boxer, Bulldog, Dachshund, Pug, and Pekingese are some of the most popular dogs; these breeds typically have more difficulty when it comes to swimming. This is due to their anatomy and facial structure which is less suited for swimming than their canine cousins. While dogs who are not proficient by nature can be trained to swim, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will truly enjoy it. A life jacket would be a good accessory to have on hand for many dogs.
In addition, your dog's presence will change the way you need to maintain your personal body of water. It will take extra time and work to make sure your pool chemical levels are appropriate and your filtration system is properly maintained and in good working order. There are many factors in this small body of water that can post a threat to your pooch.
Chlorine and Chemicals
Swimming pools are treated with chemicals such as chlorine to maintain water hygiene and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. While these chemicals are essential for human health, they can be problematic for dogs when ingested in significant amounts. Drinking chlorinated pool water can lead to gastrointestinal upset, including symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. Prolonged exposure to chlorine can also cause irritation to the the dog's skin, mouth, throat, and esophagus.
Salt Water Pools
In addition to chlorine-treated pools, salt water pools are becoming increasingly popular. While salt water may be less irritating than chlorine, excessive consumption can still lead to health issues in dogs. High salt levels in the water can cause electrolyte imbalances, leading to dehydration, increased thirst, and potentially kidney damage. It is essential to monitor your dog's access to salt water pools and provide fresh water to drink during poolside activities.
Algae and Contaminants
Stagnant or poorly maintained pools can become breeding grounds for algae and bacteria. Pups that drink from such contaminated water sources are at risk of ingesting harmful substances. Certain types of algae, such as blue-green algae, can produce toxins that are extremely dangerous when consumed. These toxins can cause symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal upset to severe neurological effects, leading to organ failure and, in extreme cases, death. It is crucial to prevent dogs from drinking the pool water that appears murky, has an unpleasant odor, or shows signs of algae growth.
My Dog Drank Pool Water, Now What?
Everyone who swims ingests some amount of water. Kids and animals tend to swallow more than adult humans. Dogs simply do not know any better and may actively lap up the pool water. They think it's a giant drinking bowl. This should be avoided. Especially in chlorine pools and those with pool chemicals. Drinking water from a pool can lead to an upset gastrointestinal tract, leading to nausea, vomiting, and esophageal damage. In rare cases, drinking excessive amounts of pool water can cause a dangerous condition called water intoxication. This causes a major imbalance in the electrolytes in the body, leading to serious and possibly irreversible brain damage.
Water intoxication, also known as hyponatremia, is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition that can occur when a dog consumes excessive amounts of water too quickly. Playing and fetching in water can lead to dogs swallowing large quantities of that water, overwhelming their bodies' ability to process it. Water intoxication can cause electrolyte imbalances, resulting in symptoms like lethargy, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and, in severe cases, coma or death. Keep a close eye on your dog's water intake and ensure they have regular breaks during pool activities.
To protect your dog from the dangers of drinking this kind of water, consider implementing the following preventive measures:
Supervision: Always supervise your dog around the pool and discourage them from drinking pool water.
Fresh Water Availability: Provide your dog with a designated water bowl nearby to satisfy their thirst during poolside activities.
Pool Barriers: Install pool barriers or fences to restrict your dog's access to the pool area when unsupervised.
Rinse After Swimming: After swimming in a pool, rinse your dog with water to remove any chlorine or chemicals from their coat and paws.
Pool Maintenance: Regularly clean and maintain your pool to prevent the growth of algae and bacteria.
Education: Educate family members, children, and visitors about the hazards of dogs drinking pool water to ensure everyone is vigilant and mindful of your dog's well-being.
More Bacteria in the Water
We love our dogs, but let’s face it, they aren’t always the cleanest! The hair, dander, dirt, fecal matter, pollen, and more will all be in your pool water if your dog is a frequent swimmer. This tip is more for the humans because everything that’s on your dog could potentially get the humans in the pool sick. For example, if your dog has fecal matter on their rear, this could get in the water and if a human swallows the water, they could get E. coli! Obviously, no one wants that so the best ways to prevent a dirty pool is to:
Properly maintain your pool and correctly adjust your pool’s pH levels. Keep in mind that the added bacteria from your dog may throw off this balance.
Ensure your pool’s filtration system is working properly and regularly clean the filter. To decrease the amount of dog hair in the filter, de-shed your dog using THE SHEDDER shampoo by PRIDE+GROOM, or brush your dog thoroughly before allowing them in the pool!
Manually clean the water after every use.
Making Chlorine Safer for Pooches
As far as chlorine levels go, the amount in a pool is negligible, but the toxic concerns are with our canine friends getting into chlorine tablets, so they should be put in a safe location where a dog cannot ingest them. Some canine owners choose to apply non-chlorine chemicals like Bromine (which is safer for pets) to their pools.
If your pet does hop in the pool, give them a quick rinse when they get out to remove any excess chemicals. In addition, be sure to dab their ears with a plush towel to prevent dampness and infection.
When most dogs see a pool, they may see a huge water bowl. Make sure to prohibit licking or drinking the pool water, as this could cause other issues. It will be best to not drink pool water and have fresh water close by.
Letting Your Dog Swim In Rivers & Lakes
Allowing your dog to swim at the lake or river, or even at the beach, may also be a potentially bad call. A lesson that many pet owners learn when they live near a lake, is that when a toxic algae bloom breaks out, it can actually be fatal to dogs that had been swimming in that body of water.
When dogs drink from or just swim in contaminated water, they might become poisoned according to the ASPCA. Blue-green algae can cause severe brain or hepatic damage if consumed.
As pet parents, it's crucial to be aware of the potential hazards of dogs drinking pool water. Chlorine and chemicals, saltwater complications, algae contamination, and the risk of water intoxication are all dangers that can arise from this behavior. By implementing preventive measures, such as supervision, providing water, and maintaining pool cleanliness, we can protect our furry friends from these risks.
Ensuring your dog's safety and well-being should always be a top priority when enjoying pool time. With proper precautions, you can create a safe and enjoyable environment for your dog to cool off and have fun during the summer months.
Remember, if you suspect that your dog has ingested a significant amount of pool water or is exhibiting any concerning symptoms after exposure, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Early detection and treatment can prevent further complications and help safeguard your dog's health.
By following the preventive measures mentioned above, providing fresh water, and maintaining close supervision, you can enjoy pool time with your furry friend while minimizing the risks associated with your dog drinking pool water alone. Consider alternative ways to keep your dog hydrated and engaged during poolside fun, such as providing interactive toys or games that encourage drinking from a fresh water source.
Ultimately, ensuring your dog's safety and well-being is paramount. With proper precautions and a keen eye on your dog's behavior, you can create a poolside environment that is both enjoyable and safe for your beloved canine companion.
Remember, fun in the sun is best when safety is a priority. So, take the necessary steps to keep your dog healthy and happy during those summertime pool adventures!