Summer is here and it means summer vacations. Many dog owners will bring their companion with them. Many will have as destination, a resort area with a lake or even a beach. Other lucky ones, will enjoy the family pool.
Can swimming in open water or in swimming pools cause health problems for dogs?
Not all dogs are as skilled in the water and many are not good swimmers.
• Ex .: Dachshund (dog sausage) and the Bulldogs. Dachshunds have very small legs, which does not allow them to have optimal swimming.
Not all dogs will necessarily like to swim, so you sometimes have to get used to them gradually, using positive reinforcement.
Some brachycephalic breeds (flat nose, partially obstructed airways) have more difficulty coping with swimming.
• Ex .: English bulldog, pug.
• They are essential if your dog accompanies you by boat, whether in a lake or on the sea.
• They are particularly important for certain dog breeds that are not known to be good swimmers: short-nosed breeds, English and French Bulldogs, Pekinese, pugs …
• Even for good swimmers, an accident can occur in the middle of the night or even in daylight if the body of water is agitated.
• Be careful when the water is very cold, like in many rivers in the Laurentians. Dogs that stay too long may suffer from hypothermia and drowning may occur.
• Flotation jackets are essential for rivers, especially if the current is powerful.
FRESH WATER (LAKES AND RIVERS)
Especially observed later in the summer ,when it gets very hot and water levels drop. Ingestion of these algae can be toxic or even fatal for dogs who drink contaminated water.
You should always have water to drink for your dog. The better he is hydrated, the less he will feel the need to drink water from the lake or the river.
There are often surface bacteria in the lakes ,in very hot weather, bacteria can make our dogs sick (eg faecal coliforms).
Most provinces have websites that allow people to check the quality levels before going for a swim. The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change Québec has a website to inform swimmers about the quality of water (the link will be posted on the show’s website).
After swimming, it is recommended to clean the animal’s ears with a cleaning solution and to dry the ears well. We use cotton wool.
Whenever possible, it is always a good idea to rinse the dog with fresh water (to remove bacteria and pathogenic algae) and then dry the dog thoroughly.
A dog that stays wet for a long time is predisposed to getting skin infections.
Before leaving the lake, we use towels and we dry as much as possible (so you must pack accordingly) and then complete at home with a hairdryer.
It takes a lot of fresh water to properly hydrate the animal.
Saltwater consumption causes diarrhea and salt can cause even more severe dehydration.
So you have to prevent the consumption of salt water by offering fresh water to drink. Your dog should be encouraged to drink fresh water as often as possible (at least every 20 minutes), especially during hot weather.
Have “hydration” breaks every 20 minutes.
Everyone who was lucky enough to go to the sea knows it. After a day of swimming, our skin is a bit sticky because of salt and sand. It’s the same for our dogs, so it’s a good idea to rinse your dog at the end of the day and then dry it as I mentioned earlier.
Same recommendation as for swimming in fresh water. After swimming, it is recommended to clean the ears with a cleaning solution for the ears of animals and to dry the ears well. We use cotton wool.
Consider this ,dogs are not as clean as humans. Some may disagree 🙂 .Long haired breeds often have small debris stuck by their backside area (fecal matter,dirt,urine etc) which can contaminate a pool real fast….especially if those same animals are not treated for parasites. Staying on top of your pool water quality and filtration is a must.
That being said, according to Dr. Scott Weese of the University of Guelph, the risks of contamination are quite low. According to him, a dog is much less likely to do his needs in a swimming pool than a young child …
(DVM DVSc DipACVIM is a Veterinary Intern and Microbiologist, Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Professor at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, and Microbiologist in Public Health. and zoonoses at the University of Guelph’s Center for Public Health and Zoonoses, and Head of Infection Control at the Ontario Veterinary University Hospital and Canada Research Chair in Zoonotic Diseases) .
Still according to Dr. Weese, one should not let a dog who vomits, has diarrhea or has a skin infection, swim in the family pool.
Specialists mention that it is possible to maintain a good quality of pool water, without exaggerating with the use of chlorine. Water should be tested more often. Be sure to maintain pH levels between 7.2 and 7.6 to maximize chlorine efficiency.
Like us, dogs can be sensitive to chlorine in pool water and can cause conjunctivitis (red eyes, usually transient) and dermatitis (inflammation of the skin).
So again, rinse the dog after swimming.
Pool latters versus stairways
Like with children,dogs can easily fall into pools by accident(like trying to reach a floating toy). Many pools are not equiped with stairways permitting a fallen dog,means to escape which can then lead to potential drownings. One must show his dog how to get out of the pool. No easy task here. Otitis/rincing and drying solutions are the same as mentionned above.
Provincial water quality sites
Dogs and swimming pools
If you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to contact a member of the medical team of the Clinic (514-634-4190) who will be happy to assist you.
About the clinic: The Lachine Veterinary Clinic offers an unmatched and personalized service to pet owners from Lachine, LaSalle, Dorval and Pointe Claire, but also across the West Island of Montreal (West Island) and Laval, and has done so ,since 1982.