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Swimming With Fido

July 15 2022

Swimming is a classic summertime activity, for people and pets. Many of our canine buddies love to cool off by going for a dip. Of course, you’ll need to take precautions to keep Fido safe at the pool. A local Champaign, IL vet offers some tips on this below.

Swim Lessons

If your pup doesn’t know how to swim, take some time to teach him. A shallow pool or lake is a good option for this. Support Fido as he is learning. We also recommend getting a doggy lifejacket for your furry pal. This is also just good to have on hand: you’ll need it if you ever go boating.


Choosing the right spot is very important. Only take your pup to pet-friendly spots. This isn’t only for legal purposes. These spots are less likely to have steep drop-offs or strong currents. Keep an eye out for blue-green algae alerts! This type of algae can be deadly to dogs. (Tip: you can download the app for this here.)

Safety Measures

Always put Fido’s safety first. Never leave him unattended near water, even for a minute. Keep pools closed off by gates or fences when they aren’t being used.

Grooming/Paw Care

When Fido gets out of the water, his paw pads will be very delicate. This means he can very quickly get blisters and burns from running and playing on hot or harsh surfaces, like sand, tar, or rock. Keep your canine companion on soft grass as much as possible.


Headed to a pool? The first thing you’ll want to do is teach Fido how to get out. Put a visible landmark near the stairs, to make it a little easier for your four-legged friend to find the exit.


This may be easier said than done, but try not to let your furry pal drink pool water. Chlorine and other pool chemicals are definitely not part of Fido’s recommended doggy diet! Keep a bowl of fresh, clean water out for him at all times.


Did you know that dogs can get sunburns? If your furry best friend has pale or thin fur, he may need some protection from the sun. Ask your vet for tips on putting sunscreen on him.

Our Advice on Swimming With Fido in 2024

Is swimming safe for all dogs?

Swimming can be safe and enjoyable for many dogs, but it’s not suitable for all. Certain breeds, especially those with short muzzles like Bulldogs or Pugs, may struggle with swimming due to their body structure. Additionally, older dogs or those with health issues such as arthritis should be carefully evaluated before allowing them to swim. Safety measures like using a doggy lifejacket and supervising your pet at all times are essential. Always introduce your dog to water gradually and consider consulting with a veterinarian to assess your dog’s fitness for swimming.

Can dogs get sunburned?

Yes, dogs can get sunburned, especially those with pale or thin fur, as well as dogs with light-colored noses or exposed skin areas. Sunburn in dogs can lead to discomfort, skin peeling, and, in severe cases, contribute to skin cancer. To protect your dog, apply pet-safe sunscreen to vulnerable areas like the ears, nose, and belly before spending time in the sun. Always consult with a veterinarian for recommendations on suitable sunscreen products for your dog.

What dog breeds are naturally strong swimmers, and which ones might need more help?

Naturally strong swimmers include breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Portuguese Water Dogs, known for their love of water and physical attributes that support swimming. Breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Dachshunds might need more help due to their body structure, breathing challenges, or lack of buoyancy. For these breeds, a doggy lifejacket is recommended, and close supervision is crucial to ensure their safety in water. Constantly assess an individual dog’s comfort and ability in water, regardless of breed, and consult with a Urbana, IL, veterinarian for specific advice.

Are there any health considerations to keep in mind before taking your dog swimming?

Before taking your dog swimming, consider their overall health, age, and fitness level. Dogs with ear infections, skin conditions, or open wounds should avoid swimming to prevent aggravation or infection. Senior dogs or those with arthritis may require a gentle approach and possibly a life jacket for support. Additionally, breeds prone to breathing difficulties should be closely monitored. Always ensure your dog is comfortable and willing to swim, and consult with a veterinarian for a health check-up and personalized advice tailored to your dog’s specific needs and conditions.

What are proper pool etiquette guidelines for bringing a dog to a pool area?

Proper pool etiquette when bringing a dog to a pool area includes ensuring the pool is pet-friendly, and your dog is well-behaved around water and people. Always supervise your dog, preventing unsupervised access to the water. Teach your dog how to safely enter and exit the pool. Keep a doggy lifejacket on hand for additional safety, especially for breeds not naturally inclined to swim. Ensure your dog is clean before swimming, prevent them from drinking pool water, and have fresh water available to avoid dehydration. Lastly, be considerate of others by managing noise and cleaning up after your pet.

Please contact us with questions or concerns about your pet’s health or care. As your Champaign, IL animal clinic, we’re here for you.

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