Beware the Danger of Pet Drowning in Swimming Pools

If you have a swimming pool, or if you take your dog to a place that does, please be aware of the potential for dogs to jump or fall into the pool but not be able to get out!

Subheadings on this page:

  • Know the Risks for Your Dog
  • Safeguard the Pool Area
  • Teach Your Dog How to Swim
  • Pool Ladders, Covers, and Blankets
  • Supervise, Supervise, Supervise!

Pets may not be equipped to pull themselves out of a swimming pool.

The danger of pool drowing for dogs became a horrifying reality for a pet lover whose dog drowned in a friend's swimming pool during a pool-side party. It can take only a few moments for pets to drown, especially in the case of particular breeds, and pets with certain conditions. Even excellent swimmers may not know how to get out of a pool, and they may swim until they are exhausted and drown. What can you do to ensure the safety of your pets around the swimming pool?

Know the Risks for Your Dog

Never assume that your dogs' familiarity with the pool area will keep them safe. Accidents can happen, especially at night when vision is diminished, or if your pets are advanced in age. Dogs with medical conditions such as arthritis, dementia, seizures, and vision loss are also at higher risk.

These factors can not only increase the likelihood of accidental falls, but they can also make it more difficult for pets to swim to safety. Even well-trained dogs may succumb to disorientation and panic after an unexpected slip into the water.

Safeguard the Pool Area

The first and best protection is to never leave your pet unattended when around a pool (or any body of water). If you have protective "baby" fencing around your pool, that's great. Make sure your pets can't get over, under, or through the fence. Remember to check the fence and gate often for openings or needed repairs.

Don't assume your dog can swim, even if he or she is a water breed.

It's easy to forget to make sure the gate stays closed during and after time spent in the pool. So display a reminder so everyone can make a habit of keeping the pool gate closed. In addition, if you have a sensor device (floating, mounted, or wearable) that sounds an alarm when it detects water or any motion in or around the pool, remember to keep the sensor powered and maintained...and within ear shot!

Teach Your Dog How to Swim

If you don't have a fence around your pool or a sensor alarm, you can still help protect your pets by teaching them how to swim. (A dog trainer can do so if needed.) When your dogs are still young, let them get familiar with the water. Don't assume they can swim. Even if pets are strong swimmers or a water breed, they may not be equipped to pull themselves over the side of a swimming pool. So, in addition to teaching them to swim, teach them to swim to the steps of the pool where they can get out on their own.

Granted, some breeds, like the bulldog, may find it a challenge to swim. In cases when you plan on being at the pool with a non-swimmer, a dog life vest can do much to keep your pups above water long enough for you to fetch them if they go in or too far. But remember not to rely on the life vest to keep your pets safe; supervision is still required.

Help Prevent Pet Drownings with a Dog Life Vest

Pool Ladders, Covers, and Blankets

What if your pool doesn't have steps but has a ladder instead? You can invest in a pet-safe pool ladder, or ramp, to help your pets climb out of the pool. But check product reviews before you buy. If you buy and install one, make sure your dogs can use it with proper training. Even the best equipment is not guaranteed to work for your dogs.

Stay vigilant! You can never supervise your pet too much.

What if you have a pool cover or blanket? These can be deceiving because dogs may perceive them as solid surfaces. If they venture onto a blanket or unsecured cover, it may give way under their weight, wrap around their bodies, and pull them underwater. When you know your pets will be in the pool area, remember to remove the blanket and maintain careful watch, or secure the cover to the proper degree to prevent them from falling in.

Supervise, Supervise, Supervise!

Vigilance is the key to ensuring the safety of others, whether children or pets. You can never supervise too much, so stay vigilant with a view to pool safety.

When outdoor temperatures rise, pet dogs may look for ways to cool off when they go outside. Even when it's not very hot out, adventurous dogs may find any body of water irresistible. With these tips and reminders, we hope you and your family members enjoy any time spent in the water...and that everyone stays cool!


Northeast Animal Hospital and Downtown St. Pete Vet Clinic are sister practices located in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida. We are devoted to helping pet owners connect with their pets, while educating them on topics that will help keep their pets happy and healthy. If you are local to St. Pete and its surrounding areas and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you’ve found us through a web search, we hope we’ve helped answer your question on this subject. If you reside beyond the Tampa Bay area we recommend you contact your local veterinarian for any further needed assistance.

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