Vets warn about swimming pool safety for dogs

February 12, 2013

Vets working in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Murdoch University are concerned that the numbers of dogs dying or suffering near drowning incidents in swimming pools may be on the rise.

While no exact statistics are available, Pauline Wilson from Perth Pet Cremations reports that it is cremating on average two dogs a week after they have drowned in pools.

Murdoch Pet Emergency Centre (MPEC) Senior Registrar Dr Ryan Ong said that at that rate, up to 200 dogs per year could be drowning in Perth swimming pools.

“This is a concerning figure,” he said. “The national figure for people drowning in Australian waterways in 2011-2012 was 284.

“These figures suggest that dog owners may not realise the need to be watching out for their pets like they do their children when it comes to safety around water.”

Dr Ong added that many people believed dogs have a natural ability to swim, but this was not true.

“Some dogs paddle better than others and some dogs sink like a stone. Generally, heavy dogs with short legs tend to find swimming a real challenge,” Dr Ong said.

“Similar to children, pets should never be left unsupervised around deep water. The fenced pool area should not be used as a dog yard. If your dog is old, or has a heart condition or a seizure disorder, keep them away from the pool.”

Dr Ong added that unsecured solar pool blankets are a hazard as dogs falling into the water can get trapped and disoriented making it hard for them to find the steps to get out of the pool. In addition, the weight of the blanket can push them under the water.

“If your dog likes to swim in the pool with the family, make sure one of the first things it learns is how to get out of the pool,” said Dr Ong. “If they have to be in the pool area, ensure that the pool blanket is off or a secure cover or netting is used to cover the pool and prevent them from falling in. If you are going out on the water with your dog, consider a doggie life jacket especially if they are not strong swimmers.”

Veterinary assistance should still be sought for dogs that are rescued from the pool after having a near drowning incident. Complications including hypothermia, pneumonia or fluid build-up in the lungs can occur.

Vets at MPEC, which is part of Murdoch’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, provide a 24 hour, seven day a week comprehensive emergency and critical care service at Murdoch University’s South Street campus. For assistance with emergency cases, contact MPEC on 1300 652 494.

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Comments (2 responses)

Heather Brigs May 3, 2013

This article was very useful. Thanks for sharing such great tips. I'm planning to train my dog on our swimming pool but I'm afraid he will get drowned. So I searched for tips and I found this wonderful article. Nice post!

Ina October 3, 2014

I dearly dearly wish that education about dog drowning were ramped up. We had our beautiful puppy for 15 1/2 years. In that time I had never ever heard about dog drownings. I had no idea it even happened!
Our pup was a great swimmer when he was young. In the past few years, we would do hydrotherapy in the pool with him. He loved sleeping next to the pavilion we have inside the pool fence. It was shady and caught the breeze on a warm day. He had plenty of room and would not even venture near the pool without us but somehow (we still don't know) while we were out, he did fall into the pool. We found our angel but it was too late. We are so devastated. If I had any idea, this would have never happened. I hope he didn't feel alone and we will always cherish him in our hearts. RIP my gorgeous pup pup.

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