Dogs and Swimming Pool Safety

Posted Sunday, 10 April 2016

Keeping Your Dog Safe When You Have a Swimming Pool

Many people do not realise that a dog can drown. Not all dogs are able to swim, especially heavy short legged breeds. However, some breeds are drawn to water: enter the Spaniel, Labrador, retriever and of course, any dogs called “Water dog”. Put these dogs near water, and they will go in. Nothing you can do to stop it except by active prevention.

Some safety pointers.

Pool Cover

Dogs can slip under the pool cover and then be not able to get out again leading to drowning. Make sure your dog NEVER walks over the pool cover. If you are trying to prevent your dog from going into the pool, yet they are allowed to walk over the cover, your dog will naturally believe it is OK to be in this space. This is confusing for the dog. If you don’t want your dog to go into your pool, the only safe thing to do is to fence your pool area with a high enough fence to keep the dog out. Although you might worry about aesthetics, you need to think about how you will feel if your dog drowns in your pool. Two dogs drown in pools each week in Perth, Australia. 

Train your dog

If you have a water breed of dog, you will never be able to keep him out of the pool unless you fence it. But if you are happy for your dog to use your pool, then teach him how to get out. Go in with him and guide him towards the steps. Make sure he can use the steps to climb out. This might help should he manage to go in without supervision. He will know how to get out in case he does manage to fall in without supervision; this would improve his chances of survival.

Buoyancy Aids

You can get pet life jackets, but they can still drown wearing these. So might be useful but not as an alternative to supervision. It is very important to be aware that these "life jackets" have weight limits. So do make sure that the aid you use is suitable for the weight of your dog and that the shape and size of the jacket is helpful rather than creating more risk. All dogs are different and will have different needs.

Pet Exit Ramps

You can get pet exit ramps which can help to make exiting easier for those that can’t climb the steps. But, once again, not a substitute for supervision.


If your dog is allowed in the pool, treat him as you would a child. Always supervise him when he is in the pool. Make sure he doesn't get too tired to be able to climb up the steps and get out again. Make sure he can’t get trapped underneath objects that float on the surface of the pool.


Elderly dogs and dogs which have seizures are more at risk of drowning than healthy young dogs. But any dog can drown, just like any child can.The only sure fire way to prevent your dog drowning in your pool is to keep him out of the pool by fencing the pool area.

Remember, at least two dogs a week drown in Perth, Australia. These figures were taken from pet crematoriums as often vets are not aware of the death as it was not medically related. The true figures are likely to be much greater than this.