So lets think of pets like children around the pool…many items need to be considered to make it a safe place to play!!
Here are some of the basic pool safety rules for dogs and owners
1.) Supervise Dogs As If They Were Small Children: The same pool safety rules that apply to children apply to dogs. Just like you hear that kids will silently drown in a pool, even when surrounded by a group of people, a dog will silently slip under water and drown if you aren’t being vigilant. So, someone needs to be assigned to be a dog’s supervisor when the dog is allowed into the pool area. And if the supervisor leaves the pool area, the dog needs to be out of the water and out of the pool area, too. Even if it is for just a few minutes. And just like kids can get too tired, so can dogs. So, you have to learn their stamina level, and keep an eye on how well they are swimming, and when they’ve had enough. Guests need to be told when the dog has had enough, and to not toss a toy again in the water for the dog to retrieve.
2.) Learn Some Basic Dog First Aid: Every dog home should have a dog first aid kit, and those who are supervising the dog need to know where it is and how to rescue a drowning, drowned, or injured dog. Dogs can slip and fall, break bones, get cut on glass, drink alcoholic drinks, chew on pool implements and swallow pieces, or get into pool chemicals. Talk to your UVH veterinarian about questions you may have!
3.) Make Sure You Tell Everyone The Safety Rules: Not only should the family have a good idea of what can and shouldn’t be done with the dog, so too, should you inform guests before they enter the pool area what you allow with your dog. That includes not allowing the dog to drink a lot of pool water. Dogs need a separate fresh water bowl in the pool area filled with normal drinking water. And dogs shouldn’t be swimming on a full stomach of food because of the risk of bloat / torsion. So, wait at least 3 hours after a meal before letting your dog swim.
4.) Learn How To Swim: You should NEVER have a person supervise the dog around or in the pool, if that person doesn’t know how to swim. If the dog somehow endangers another person or animal in the pool, then someone needs to be able to jump in and save that person or animal. And if the dog needs rescuing in the pool, then that person needs to be able to jump in and save the dog.
5.) Build A Good Pool: Living in the south there are a lot of pools. Some are well made, safe, and are managed well. Others are poorly made, completely unsafe, and are a mess. If you are going to own a pool and a dog, then it is time to hire a professional to perform a pool inspection, and let them know that part of what you are concerned with is your dog’s safety, and your family’s safety with the dog. For example…
- Hidden underwater features, such as built-in cement stools or seating platforms might be cool for humans, but if a dog jumps into a pool and lands on that feature, the dog could become injured.
- Unsafe underwater suction drains – Such a drain could pose a life threat if the dog swam to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a toy.
- Slippery swimming pool decks could be a problem if a dog races past a person and causes someone to fall. Pool decks can get VERY HOT and burn your dog’s feet. Remember, they aren’t wearing sandals like you are. The new decks are designed to not get burning hot, and dogs need a shady, comfortable place so they don’t overheat. Just because you are cool in the water doesn’t mean a dog has enough sense to go in and cool off, so the dog needs a shaded spot on the deck for their comfort.
- Pool furniture needs to be pet safe. Dogs shouldn’t be tethered to pool furniture. The furniture needs to be sturdy, too.
- Fencing needs to keep the dog inside the pool area when swimming, and outside the pool area when the dog isn’t supposed to be in the swimming area.
- Certain pool surfaces and pool decks can be damaged by a dog’s nails. Is your pool ready for your dog?
- Install spring loaded, locking gates.
- New, high tech detection devices and pool alarms should be installed: motion detector lights; water motion detection alarms to notify you if the dog is in the pool with no one around; security cameras; web cameras which you can log into from your phone or computer when away from the home. You can even purchase collar alarms for dogs which will notify you if your dog falls in the water or is submerged (link below – turtle collars).
- Many dogs can climb chain link fences, and some wooden fences can be broken down by a very determined dog. So please consider this…
- Consider landscaping risks. Some plants are poisonous (sago palms)
- Install a dog safety pool ramp so your dog has an easier time exiting. Often times, the steps are just too high for the dog to navigate, especially if a smaller dog accidentally falls into the water and can’t jump out. Above ground pools have ladders that dogs can climb, so those need to either be removable or somehow enclosed so the dog can’t get in the pool without anyone knowing. (link below – skamper ramp)
- Dog water toys should always be put away when you aren’t playing with your dog. You don’t want a dog to be tempted to jump in the water without you seeing. And loose toys on the pool deck are a tripping / falling hazard. Have a storage area for all pool toys, both human and dog.
- Pool covers should be installed so that the dog can’t get in the water, if no one is around, even if the dog gets into the pool area. Pick a durable cover that can support the weight of your dog. The floatable covers are not safe!
- Dogs should be taught to stay off diving boards. If you want the dog to learn to jump into the pool, it should be from a safe point at the side of the pool, or the dog should be taught to climb down the steps into the pool.
- Routine maintenance should be done on all pools.
- Dogs SHOULD NOT be encouraged to get into a hot tub. They can’t handle the heat. Be sure to keep covers on hot tubs when not in use. MAJOR life threat!!
- Pool vacuums can be dangerous for dogs to play with, and dogs can get tangled or trapped behind the floating pipe. All of that should be moved out of the way before a dog is put into the pool to swim.
- If your pool is attracting wasps, then hire a pest company to find the wasp nest and have it removed so your dog isn’t stung.
- Good landscape design is a necessity. Think about safety…say no to Sago Palms and other toxic plants!
- If you have a poolside barbeque, consider pet safety, as well. That means food will be around, and some foods aren’t safe with pets. Fire isn’t safe for pets, either, so a open fire pit isn’t a good idea when you own a dog.
Have fun this summer and ask questions if you should have them!! and please share pictures of you and your pets having fun in the pool with UVH on Facebook and Instagram!!
Be safe!! – UVH