Approximately 20 years ago, when my sons were much younger, something happened that made me realize that I am a dog lover. Our yellow Labrador retriever, Ellie, died suddenly after 10 years of providing our family with constant joy and me with a running partner. I remember it like it was yesterday—as it was very difficult on our family. Our youngest son, who was responsible for feeding Ellie, kept putting food in her bowl for several days after her death. I remember telling him that he could quit putting dog food in her bowl, to which he responded: “But Dad, Ellie is going to be hungry when she gets back from Heaven”. Unfortunately they don’t come back—but our family will never forget Ellie. Since that time, we have had to experience another family member’s passing, Sweetie, who was a black Labrador Retriever. Sweetie’s passing was even more difficult on our family—as our sons helped pick her out when we got her, and were also there when her life ended. In the last few years we have gotten two new additions to our family—Bogey (dachshund) & Dawson (pug mix that we rescued). You cannot help but smile when you see Bogey & Dawson. We are hopeful that they will provide us many years of love and great memories, just as Ellie & Sweetie did.
Being a pool owner, the topic of swimming pools and dogs is something that I am familiar with. Although it is not recommended by most in the swimming pool industry that dogs be allowed in pools (due to additional chemical requirements and dog hair in the filter), I have always felt that our Labrador retrievers, first Ellie and then Sweetie, belonged in the pool. There are several other dog breeds that enjoy being in the water, and if you’ve got a dog that enjoys being in the pool and its okay with you, I say “go for it!”
Concerning swimming pools and dogs, there are two areas that I feel are worth discussing—safety & exercise.
Several times per year I hear of dogs drowning in swimming pools. I believe that we often overlook pool safety for our pets. Following are some pool safety tips for your dogs:
- Watch your dogs as you would your children when they are in the pool area. This might sound ridiculous, but not all dogs are able to take care of themselves when they are in the pool. If your dog does not take to water, you might want to consider installing a fence around the pool.
- Have a water dish for your dog. Some people allow their dog to drink out of the pool. The water should not harm the dog, but if the dog falls in to the pool while trying to get a drink, the dog may become startled and be unable to recover.
- Teach your dog how to get out of the pool. Most dog drownings in pools occur because the dog does not know how to get out of the pool and simply swims around looking for an exit and wears itself out.
Although dog drownings do occur, an area that is often overlooked when it comes to pools and pets are the chemicals used in the pool. Be sure to keep the lids tight on all chemical containers and clean up any chemical spills to prevent accidents with the family pet.
Swimming has always been widely known to be great exercise for humans, and it would only make sense that it is the same for dogs. Michael Baugh, certified professional dog trainer and owner of Michael’s Dog Training in Houston, confirms this by saying that swimming provides good low impact exercise for dogs and is recommended by veterinarians for dogs with arthritis. He also says that swimming is used for keeping show dogs fit, which we can confirm as our Labrador retriever, Sweetie, was much more fit during the summer due to her swimming regularly to escape the heat.