The Deep End: The Truth About Swimming Pools and Pet Safety

Chatoak_iStock_000010972143_LargeThe pool versus lawn debate continues to rage on throughout our fair state, but the basic truth is that California has well over a million (and counting) residential pools that demand to be filled. If this isn’t staggering enough, consider the excessively high numbers of beloved pets that drown in backyard swimming pools each year.

While our politicians and water districts hash out usage fines and other rigmarole, we find ourselves more
concerned with swimming pools and pet safety. Join us in learning more about what you can do to protect your pet from water dangers.

But My Pet Loves Water!

Water can be a fun element to splash about in, and a fabulous way to cool off on hot summer days. But just the way you wouldn’t encourage a child to play in water alone, your pet should remain under your watchful eye as well.

Among humans, drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of accidental death, but similar statistics for pets aren’t readily available. We do know, however, that we personally see and treat a shocking amount of pets every year for drowning (or water-related injuries), and those numbers tend to increase in summer.

Pools and Pet Safety

We always recommend that pet owners learn more about swimming pools and pet safety risks, and a professional trainer can teach your pet to swim. Swimming is a life-saving skill, and establishing basic water safety rules will give you both a sense of confidence and security. Believe it or not, not all pets are natural swimmers. Don’t take it for granted that your pet will know how to swim or navigate the water.

Teaching your pet to enter and exit a pool via the stairs, or pet ramp, is absolutely critical to his or her survival. You may also choose to place a prominent visual marker (like a potted palm) at the top of the pool steps that your pet can look for when he or she wants to get out of the water

Many pets panic in the water and forget to make use of the back legs. Get your pet used to a life jacket, and assist him or her in the water by supporting the back legs. Over time, your pet will begin to use all four legs in unison, which will minimize splashing, and promote effective strokes through the water.

A Safe Environment

You may be required to use a pool cover to reduce evaporation, but instead of a floating cover that can trap a pet beneath it, we recommend an anchored safety cover that fits over the entire pool. You may also consider:

  • Installing a fence around the perimeter of the pool
  • Purchasing a pool alarm to alert you when your pet enters the water without you
  • Learning life-saving pet CPR

All Pets Are At Risk

Certain breeds, such as bulldogs, corgis, and pugs, aren’t able to swim well due to their broader chests and shorter legs. Likewise, pets with certain health conditions, such as arthritis, blindness, and irregular heart rhythms may be more at risk.

If your pet struggles in the water, watch out for any inhalation of water. Warning signs can include coughing, respiratory distress, and decreasing body temperature. Secondary drowning can happen up to three days after a near-drowning incident, and should be treated as a medical emergency. Your pet may require x-rays, close observation, and antibiotics to prevent symptoms of pneumonia.

Water Rights

Swimming can be excellent exercise for your pet, and an extra way to play and bond with the family. Knowing more about pools and pet safety (and what to do in an emergency) will help protect your pet this summer and throughout the year. Give us a call with any questions or concerns, and, above all, have a safe and enjoyable summer!