Water Exercise for Dogs: Swimming Safely

Updated: 12/21/20232-4 minutes
Person on a dock with their dog

Tips to Help Your Dog Stay Safe While Getting Wet

Enjoy beating the summer heat by heading for water? Water exercise for dogs can help your pet stay active and cool in the summer heat.  

If you have a dog who likes to swim, follow these tips to help keep them safe this summer. 

Start Shallow

Some breeds are natural aquatic athletes who love the water, while other breeds are not natural swimmers. If you don’t know how your dog will perform in the water, introduce them in a safe environment where you have more control, such as a pool or the shore of a lake.  

You should be able to tell whether your dog is enjoying the experience by their reaction to water. Watch for signs of stress; if your dog heads for shore or tries to get out of the pool, don’t force them to stay in.   

Provide Swim Support

Contrary to popular belief, even dogs who like to swim might not instinctively know how to dog paddle. If you notice your dog struggling to swim, or paddling with their front paws only, hop in the water and help hold up their back legs. This will give them the stability they need to develop the skill of paddling with all four paws.  

Until your dog becomes a confident swimmer, consider using a canine life jacket and lead to keep them safe as they build their skills and confidence. Also, make sure your dog has easy access to get in and out of the water. 

Ensure Your Dog Has Energy to Swim

Even the most athletic dogs can overexert themselves in the water. If this happens to your dog, they may be prone to panic and will try to climb onto anything (or anyone) to try to get to dry land. For your safety as well as your dog’s, keep a flotation device handy to toss to them before you swim out to help them.  

Swimming is great exercise, but it can tire dogs quickly. If time in the water will be part of your dog’s summer schedule, consider researching the best food for active dogs. Pro Plan Sport formulas are an excellent choice for active dogs because they feature an optimal protein-to-fat ratio to support metabolic needs, along with amino acids to nourish muscles, including during the crucial time after exercise. No matter which formula you choose, it’s always a good idea to keep feedings either a few hours before or after exercise to give your dog’s body time to absorb and utilize nutrients.  

Protect Your Pet From the Sun

Being in the water often means being in the sun. To protect your dog from overexposure, make sure they have a shady spot to rest in with fresh drinking water available.  

With these tips as your guide, you can make water exercise for dogs one of the safe and enjoyable summer activities your share with your dog. 

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