Robotic pool cleaners
Letting dogs swim in your pool is a personal choice, like letting them sleep in your bed or ride in your car. But are dogs in pools a good idea? The truth is that dogs can introduce nasties into your swimming pool, which can have a detrimental effect on the quality and clarity of your pool water, not to mention swimmers.
But it goes the other way, too. Pools need to be a comfortable place for dogs, particularly if they love having a paddle with the family or cooling down after a hot day. So how do you keep both swimmers and dogs happy – and safe – in your backyard pool?
To answer this question, we look at whether pools are safe for dogs, how dogs affect pool water and what you can do to minimise issues, both for you and your pet. Plus, we give you expert tips on keeping your dog out of your pool if they’re sick, older or you want your pool to be a dog-free zone.
This is a commonly asked question, so let’s get it out of the way. The simple answer is yes, it’s safe for dogs to swim in backyard swimming pools, regardless of whether you have a chlorine, saltwater or mineral pool system. In fact, many pool owners swim with their dogs without any major issues.
Swimming is actually a great way for dogs to cool down in hot weather or burn off excess energy. According to one vet, a minute of swimming is like four minutes of jogging for a dog. However, there are times when pools are not the safest place for your dog. Here are a few of them:
Dirty pool water can cause skin irritation, sore eyes, gastrointestinal upsets or worse. Look at it this way: if the water’s not fit for humans, it’s not fit for dogs. Make sure all the chemical levels are balanced before you let your fur baby into the pool.
You can usually tell from your dog’s size, fur and temperament if they’re a natural swimmer. Golden retrievers, for example, have long limbs and a water-resistant coat, making them strong and eager swimmers. Smaller breeds like Jack Russells or dachshunds, however, have small legs that don’t paddle as effectively. What’s more, their bottom end is too heavy to stay horizontal, making it difficult to get into a comfortable swimming position.
There are two ways your dog can drink pool water: from ingesting too much while swimming, or lapping from the pool instead of their water bowl. Either way, drinking too much pool water can lead to tummy upsets, vomiting or diarrhea. In extreme cases, your dog can experience water intoxication, which lowers the sodium levels in their blood and poses a risk to their health.
Elderly dogs should be kept out of the pool because they can’t kick or move easily in water. Likewise, sick dogs won’t have the energy levels to swim and may even introduce disease into the pool. If that’s the case, wait until they feel better or they’re more mobile before letting them in the pool.
You may not realise this, but when your dog uses the pool, they do more than just leave paw prints on the decking – they also leave behind a smorgasbord of dirt, bacteria and fur in your pool water. Sound icky? That’s because it is! Depending on their size, cleanliness, fur type and length of exposure, below are some of the ways that dogs can affect your backyard pool:
While dogs can do a number on your water balance and pool equipment, it doesn’t mean you should keep them out of the pool. Here are four things you need to do to minimise their impact and cut down on maintenance:
1. Brush their coat
Furry or long-haired dogs shed a lot of hair, which can clog your skimmers or pool pump filter. To minimise this, give your pooch a brush down before they get in the pool to get rid of loose hairs. Make sure you do this away from the pool or hair may drift into the water!
2. Give them a wash
Some experts think that a dog is equivalent to having three or more people in your pool. Others believe it’s as high as fifty people. Yikes! Either way, there’s no doubt that dogs affect the chemical balance of your pool. That’s because their coats are often full of dirt, oils and faecal matter. And their paws aren’t exactly clean, either. These contaminants can affect your pH and sanitiser levels, leaving you with unbalanced water. To avoid this, give your dog a thorough wash before they enter the pool.
3. Trim their nails
Long nails can tear or destroy your pool liner. They can also scratch tiles or other pool equipment, leading to leaks, higher water bills and costly repairs. Make sure your dog’s nails are trimmed before they launch into the pool. As a bonus, swimmers won’t get scratched if your doggie gets a little excited in the water!
4. Limit the time they spend in the pool
The longer your dog spends in the pool, the more they’ll shed hair and release oils, contaminating your water even further. And if you’ve got more than one dog in the pool at once, they may jump and splash a lot, leading to water loss and chemical imbalances. To prevent this, limit their pool time or consider getting a portable dog pool so they can splash to their heart’s content.
5. Use a lifejacket
Larger dogs tend to be strong swimmers, so you may think a vest is unnecessary. However, large dogs can get tired and a vest will help them stay afloat and get to the nearest exit. Vests are also a must for smaller dogs who can’t move through the water as quickly. Some even have handles so you can pull them out of the water safely if they’re in distress!
6. Supervise them
While most dogs are confident swimmers, it’s still important to supervise them while they’re in the pool. This will ensure they don’t slip out of their safety vests or get injured. It’s also a good way to regulate how much time they spend in the water. Also, dogs tend to use human swimmers as floating devices, which can cause distress or injury (either to the human or the dog), so keep an eye on this.
If your dog has trouble getting out of the pool, consider investing in a ramp or dog ladder to make the pool easy to enter and exit. And finally, try to prevent your dog from rolling in garden beds and then getting back in the pool. This can introduce more dirt, grass and insects, which is the last thing you need in your pool!
7. Use a pool cover
If you want to keep your dogs out of the pool when no one is around, use a solid pool cover when the pool is not in use. This will prevent your dog from entering or accidentally falling into the water.
8. Avoid using dog toys
Your dog may have a favourite chew toy, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to use it in the pool. Many dogs wind up with chipped teeth trying to bite onto a toy that was near steps, railings or tiles. Generally, dogs don’t have the same depth perception as humans do, so they can misjudge distances and get hurt. If you want to give them a toy, try one that’s large, soft and buoyant – and make sure you supervise playtime.
9. Rinse them afterwards
Like human swimmers, dogs should rinse off after taking a dip in the pool. A hose-down should help remove chlorine or other chemicals from their coat, skin and eyes. Chlorine residue can cause skin irritation on human skin, so imagine how much worse it is for your playful pooch. Canine eyes, ears and noses are much more delicate than ours.
Also, pay attention to their ears, particularly if they’re floppy. These can be prone to dryness or ear infections after a swim. If your dog tends to get dry or flaky skin, add a coat conditioner after the rinse.
Maltipoo shaking off water from Pixabay.
Pool maintenance is important after dogs have been in your pool, particularly if humans were in there too. You may have some murkiness, low water levels and a cluster of dog hairs in the skimmers. If you took our dog prep advice earlier, it won’t be too bad. But if it’s out of control, here’s what to do to get your pool back on track again.
We know how important it is to balance water after heavy pool use, but it’s doubly important when your dog has been using the pool. The oils and debris on their skin will introduce phosphates. And what do phosphates do? They feed algae! After everyone’s left the pool, check the chemical balance with 6 in 1 SmartDose test strips and adjust accordingly.
Next, check phosphate levels with test strips (these can be bought separately) and add the recommended amount of phosphate remover. This binds with phosphates so they can be removed by your filtration system and/or an automatic pool cleaner. If you find that the water is still a bit cloudy after doing this, use a sparkle clarifier tablet.
Even if you gave Fido a good brush before his swim, hair will still make its way into your filter. After a splash session with your pooch, empty your skimmers and pump filter. It’s also worth rinsing your cartridge filter or backwashing your media filter to get rid of any debris. Hey, you may even find some human hair too!
If phosphate removers and clarifiers don’t do the trick, try shocking your pool. This should get the chlorine levels back up and kill any bacteria introduced by your dog (and humans, too!).
If you’ve got a water-loving dog, it’s perfectly safe for them to have a paddle in the pool, as long as you follow the aforementioned simple rules. First, wash and brush your dog before entry, snip their nails and limit the time they spend in the pool. Afterwards, check your water balance and adjust accordingly with phosphate remover, clarifier tablets or pool shock.
The other thing to remember is that dogs need to feel safe and comfortable in your pool, so make sure the water is always balanced and that you provide them with the safety gear they need, like ramps and vests.
And if you need to keep them out of the pool area for short or long periods, keep the fence closed, use a sturdy pool cover and provide other activities for your furry friend, like playing fetch in the park, letting them swim in a portable pool or taking them to a dog pool!
Want more info on keeping your pool in tip-top condition, either with or without a poochie? Then check out our Pool Tips.
Robotic pool cleaners
Robotic pool cleaners
Sparkle Clarifier Tablet
6in1 SmartDose™ Test Strips
Cartridge Filters & Filter Element
BSCF Single Cartridge Filter
Media Filters & Glass Media
BTM Media Filter