Your backyard swimming pool isn’t always a safe place for your dog: according to the Pool Safety Network, around 5,000 family pets drown every year in backyard pools. It is important that you take precautions to stop your dog from going near your pool unsupervised. They should never be left unattended around a backyard pool, even if you are only just inside the house. Before you let your dog swim in the pool, make sure that you check the chlorine levels, as too much chlorine can be harmful to the fur and skin, and will make them sick if ingested. Your backyard pool may be fun, but it can be a big hazard for dogs, particularly if they are a breed that is not suited to swimming. They need to be supervised around the water and in many cases, kept away from it completely.
Not all dogs swim
It is a myth that all dogs can swim. Of course there are some breeds that have been bred specifically to be good in water. The Labrador Retriever, Poodle, Irish Water Spaniel, Shorthaired Pointer and Flatcoated Retriever are all physically perfect for swimming. They have an under layer of fur, a bit like Merino wool, which helps keep them warm. Then they have a top coat that repels the water. These dogs are fit and muscular for swimming - in fact you will have trouble keeping them out of the water!
Many of the flat-faced breeds, however, are not able to swim due to their facial structure and general anatomy. These include Pugs, Pekingese, Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Boxers and Basset Hounds. Dogs, just like children, need constant supervision around water to reduce the risk of drowning, especially if they are not strong swimmers. Deep water, obstacles under the water and no easy way out of the water, are other common hazards. For flat faced breeds, the best preventative measure is to simply keep them away from the water.
Supervise your dog
Even if your dog is a suitable breed for swimming, that doesn’t mean that you can let them have free rein of your backyard pool. Overexertion through panic is one of the most common causes of drowning, so when your dog has entered the water, you should make sure that they are calm and comfortable with having a swim. Many dogs will be able to do a “doggy paddle,” but breeds with short legs or senior pets will only be able to maintain this for a short period of time. You should always make sure that your dog knows how to get out of the water - it is worth installing a water safety ramp for them, as the metal pool ladders aren’t easy for dogs.
Fencing and gating
If you need to keep your dog out of your backyard pool completely, then you should put a fence all the way round - many community laws insist that this fence is at least 48 inches high. The gate should be tightly latched. If you are concerned that it is going to be pushed open by your dog, then you should install a gate alarm. When your pool is not in use, using a tight pool cover is one of the easiest ways to ensure that your dog doesn’t jump or fall into the water. A safety pool cover should be able to withstand a weight of 485 pound per 5sq feet.
If your dog isn’t a suitable breed for swimming, you will need to keep them away from your backyard pool entirely. If they do enjoy a swim, however, make sure that you always supervise them and that chlorine levels are monitored.