All pugs can swim

Swimming season - swim safely with your dog

Swimming is a great workout and adventure for dogs. Whether at the bathing lake or in your own dog pool. So that dogs are not in danger, you should heed these tips.



Not all dogs can swim

While some dogs jump into the water from the start as if they had never done anything else, others may not be physically fit to be good swimmers. Some literally sink to the ground like a stone. A dog's ability to swim is highly dependent on its physique.

Dogs with a large chest and short legs (such as bulldogs, dachshunds or pugs) have to work very hard to stay afloat. Short-nosed dog breeds are also often affected by breathing problems, which quickly leads to fatigue. Low-fat dog breeds (such as greyhound, boxer, or Doberman) are at greater risk of getting submerged when trying to swim. With mini breeds, water movement should always be taken into account. Small dogs are more likely to be swept away by waves or currents underwater. It is important to understand that any dog ​​can get submerged and that there is such a risk for every breed.


Learn to swim slowly

Many dogs are excited when they first get into the water. Give your dog time to explore the water on their own. Not every dog ​​jumps into it immediately; some need security to familiarize themselves with the unknown element. Motivate your dog to follow you into the water. Take care of its safety. Your dog should always be close by so that you can intervene quickly in an emergency. This is the only way to avoid bad experiences that have a lasting effect right from the start. You should never force your dog to go into the water, this can lead to permanent reluctance.

Radical cures are not adequate swimming courses! Simply throwing a dog into the water and hoping that nature will know what to do is extremely dangerous and really negligent.


Buy a life jacket for your dog

Life jackets give dogs extra buoyancy. Often they are equipped with a handle on the back, which makes it easy to grab the dog and help him in an emergency. Dogs just learning to swim should wear a life jacket. Just like dogs that have little buoyancy of their own or are very nervous in the water.

Nervous dogs are at an increased risk of fatigue. Dogs that only paddle with their front limbs tire more quickly and are given additional safety by wearing a life jacket. If there is panic and thus uncontrolled paddling movements, water is often swallowed and it can even lead to drowning. To find the right vest for your dog, you should go to a specialty store. Ordering via the Internet can be difficult because dogs have very different body shapes.

A little tip for everyone who finds a life jacket superfluous. A waterproof luminous collar can show the way to the underwater dog in an emergency. Depending on the water quality, the dog may no longer be visible after a few centimeters.


Do not drink water from lakes or streams

Bring your own water for your dog. Lakes, swamps and streams are often contaminated with pathogenic organisms. In mild cases it can lead to diarrhea (e.g. from Giardia), but in severe cases (e.g. leptospirosis) even death. Many private swimming opportunities are treated with algae killers or chlorine and are therefore unsuitable sources of water.

In contrast to infection, the risk of water poisoning is quite low. In healthy animals, an extreme amount of water has to be consumed in order to trigger symptoms of poisoning (nausea and vomiting). Nevertheless, animals with previous illnesses (e.g. kidney or heart problems) are at an increased risk.

also do not drink sea water

Sea water is also not a good choice for dogs. The very salty water draws fluid from the body and thus leads to diarrhea and vomiting. This type of diarrhea (also known as beach diarrhea) comes on quickly and results in severe dehydration. If dogs are then not given enough fluids, severe kidney failure is easy, which is often fatal. To reduce the risk of your dog drinking water while swimming, always offer him fresh water and watch him to see if he is ingesting salt water.



Bathing beaches

If possible, only go to designated beaches. The bacteria count in the water and other water values ​​are checked here. Also pay attention to the designation as a dog bathing beach.

When swimming in lakes, streams or rivers, the animals can devour themselves in green plants, which in the worst case, tear them under water. The same applies to disturbances in flowing water. Swimming is safest in the immediate vicinity of the shore. There the dog can get to safety more quickly when exhausted.


Watch dog closely

While swimming, the dog should be under constant supervision (similar to a child). The safety of waters can change, sometimes even within a short period of time. In addition, young dogs often overestimate their strength, while older dogs are slow to realize that they are no longer as strong as they used to be.

By the way, dogs can both overheat and cool down in water. Unfortunately, our four-legged friends do not understand that it is swimming that causes this condition. Therefore, it is up to us humans to pay close attention to it. Look out for the early signs of heat stroke and hypothermia. A good sign that the dog is getting too cold if the human is getting too cold too. Then it's time to get out of the water and take a break.

In certain cases, the dog should also be watched closely after swimming. Dogs that have inhaled water while swimming can die of it hours later. This is known as dry drowning. Therefore, dogs that have accidentally come under water should always be examined by a veterinarian in case of doubt.



Be prepared

Anyone who regularly goes swimming with their dog should be aware of individual problems. Some tick medicines are washed off in the water and damage the water. Since swimming dogs are more susceptible to leptospirosis, they should be vaccinated against this disease on a regular basis. Your veterinarian can advise you on appropriate preventive measures. For safety reasons, dogs with certain pre-existing conditions should not swim or only swim to a limited extent (e.g. with diabetes mellitus or epilepsy). Ask your treating veterinarian about this.

Ideally, every pet owner knows how to provide first aid in an emergency. A dog that has almost drowned and can be pulled out of the water after a short time can often be saved with proper resuscitation. First aid courses for dogs are offered by various organizations and veterinarians.

Be careful if you need to rescue your dog from the water. Medium-sized to large dogs can, in their panic, pull a person (who cannot swim well, for example) underwater. Instead, try to lead the dog in a calm voice to a safe place from which you can safely rescue him.


Look out for signs of illness

There are some parasites that are transmitted through water and that are invisible to the human eye. For example, Giardia can be transferred with the water. After swimming, pay more attention to signs of illness such as diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, decreased appetite and fever. As soon as your dog shows any of these symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian. Some waterborne illnesses can be fatal if left untreated!

Other illnesses that occur more frequently after swimming are, for example:

  • Water rod "Cold water tail" is usually triggered by hypothermia or water that is too cold
  • Back and joint pain - also often a result of hypothermia, especially in osteoarthritis patients
  • Sore throat and pharynx - often caused when dogs are hypothermic
  • Cystitis - also accumulated due to hypothermia
  • Cuts - e.g. from broken fragments that collect on the bank
  • Torn off claws - usually the softened horn still sticks while swimming or afterwards and tears or breaks off
  • Ear infection - due to water residue in the ear canal (especially in floppy-eared dogs)



Avoid water with algae

Blue-green algae (also called cyanobacteria) can often be found in calm waters. The substances that these organisms make are toxic to humans and animals. This can be fatal for dogs that ingest water contaminated with blue-green algae. The highest concentration of algae is found on the bank, especially in late summer. As soon as you can see algae in the water with the naked eye, dogs should definitely avoid the water. With certain types of blue-green algae, death occurs within minutes.


then wash and dry

Wash your dog after swimming to remove most of the bacteria and prevent e.g. hot spots (deep skin inflammations). Not only can harmful bacteria be found in water, it also removes chemical residues and toxins. Coarse soiling should be removed by brushing.

To prevent chronic ear infections (also known as swimmer’s ear), you should pat the inside of your ear dry after swimming (especially with floppy ears). Look out for signs of ear infections such as unpleasant odor, head shaking, and ear scratching.



It is unclear how many dogs are killed in swimming accidents each year. But every incident remains just that - an accident. Prepare yourself and your dog as well as possible for swimming so that the fun remains unbroken!