A Guide for Swimming with your Dog

Swimming with your dog is one of the best summer activities that you can do with your water-loving pooch! Both pools and natural bodies of water are so inviting in the summer heat. However, there are a few things you should know before you let your dog join you in the water.

Preparing your Pup

  • Before going for your first swim with your dog, it is essential to note that not all dogs like swimming, or even know how to do it! Your dog might not want to partake in this activity or might need a little guidance on how to navigate the water.
  • If you are swimming with your dog in a pool, you should check your dog’s nails and trim them if necessary – otherwise, they are likely to scratch up the lining.
  • Just like you would for your child, you might want to consider using a doggie sunscreen to battle the sun’s harsh rays, as well as a doggie life jacket to keep him afloat (especially for the more hesitant swimmers).
  • Bring along a first aid kit! You never know when an accident might happen.


Preparing your Pup

Choosing the Location to go Swimming with your Dog:

  • If you want to go swimming in a pool, make sure that there is an easy way for your dog to exit the water. Your dog might not know how to tell you he’s tired, so having a non-slip ramp, steps, or a doggie ladder.
  • If you want to swim in a lake, stream, or other natural bodies of water, there are a few things to consider. Warmer, stagnant water is a breeding ground for brain-eating amoeba and other harmful bacteria. In addition to that, make sure there are no blue-green algae blooms, as they are most abundant during hot weather months and are incredibly toxic for dogs. It is also vital to stay away from water with faster-flowing currents to avoid any scares.
  • Keep an eye out for any broken glass or metal on the shoreline – dogs’ pads get softer after swimming and are especially vulnerable to cuts.


Enjoying the Water:

  • When your dog is splashing around, be sure to keep an eye on him. Supervision is of utmost importance as your dog might swim too far, get too tired, or get stuck in a strong current. Always be ready to rescue your dog from any scary situations!
  • Check the temperature of the weather and the water. If it is too cold, hypothermia could occur and not only is this dangerous in itself, but it could also tire your dog’s muscles and increase the risk of drowning.
  • If your dog is uncertain or doesn’t want to swim, don’t force him into the water. If he is curious, he will approach it at his own speed.


Choosing the Location to go Swimming with your Dog:

After Swim Care:

  • Make sure there is fresh water from home available for your dog to lap up during and after a swim! This will help prevent an upset stomach or contact with harmful parasites.
  • Provide your dog with somewhere shady to nap – he will be exhausted after a fun day playing in the water.
  • Dry your dog’s ears to avoid a possible ear infection – this is especially important for dogs with floppy ears, like labs. You can also purchase ear cleaning solutions to be extra careful.
  • Rinse your dog’s coat after the swim to clean off any bacteria, saltwater, chlorine, etc. Then dry and brush out your dog’s fur to prevent skin conditions and to check for cuts, ticks, or any other potential problems.


Bonus: Places to Swim with your Dog near Seattle

There are some great places near Seattle where you can go swimming with your dog. Please make sure you respect any of the on-leash rules at these parks! For more activities to do with your dog, check out our guide to Pet-Friendly Hiking Trails Near Seattle.

  • Magnuson’s Off-Leash Dog Park has access to the freshwater shoreline of Lake Washington. At 8.6 acres, it is Seattle’s largest and most popular off-leash area.
  • Half an hour north of Seattle lies the Edmonds Off-Leash Area that has access to a dog-friendly beach on the Puget Sound.
  • Marymoor Park is a large off-leash area 25 minutes east of Seattle where your dog can swim in the Sammamish River.




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