Table of Contents:

  • Can all dogs swim – and do they want to?
  • Where can I take my dog swimming?
  • Can dogs go in swimming pools?
  • Where should I avoid letting my dog swim?
  • Do I need to dry my dog – even when it’s hot?
  • Can swimming make my dog unwell?
  • Should dogs eat before they swim?
  • Quick swimming FAQs 
  • Can I teach my dog to swim?
  • Should puppies swim?
  • Can dogs swim in the sea?
  • How long can dogs swim for?
  • Is swimming good for dogs?
  • To sum it all up…


There’s nothing like a cool dip on a long, hot summer day, especially for our furry, four-legged friends. So, whether you’re heading for dog-friendly beaches or splashing about somewhere closer to home, we’ve put together today’s blog to answer all your questions about safe, happy swimming for dogs. Can all dogs swim? Can dogs go in swimming pools? Where can I take my dog swimming this summer? We’ve got all the answers in our go-to doggy paddle guide…


Can all dogs swim – and do they want to? 

Just like us, some dogs like to swim, some don’t. Yours might love it from the get-go and seem like a complete natural, or they might be nervous and need lots of positivity from you. So can dogs naturally swim? Can any dog swim? Well potentially, with time and encouragement, most dogs can at least paddle, but dogs with short legs, short noses or a top-heavy shape often struggle more than others.

If your dog’s trying swimming for the first time, or seems anxious about going in, introduce it slowly, keeping them on a long line in shallow water until they’re happy. There are lots of things that might be putting them off, whether it’s the temperature, reflections on the surface or the crashing sound of waves. 

Even if you’ve got your heart set on sunny, splashy, dog-friendly beach holidays, if your pup’s not keen, don’t force them into the water. Just give them time and plenty of positive reinforcement. Try carrying some rewards – like our pocket-friendly meaty treats. If your dog’s nervous, treat them for dipping their paws, or taking those first few steps in the shallows. If they can’t get enough of the water, try treating them for waiting until you say they can go in – and coming out when you call them. 


Where can I take my dog swimming? 

There are all sorts of great places to take your dog swimming in the UK – the most important thing is to make sure they’re safe and happy in the water. Lakes, calm seas and very slow-moving rivers are perfect places to let dogs swim, and shallow streams can be fun places to paddle. 

Aim for clean, clear water you can see into easily, with sloping banks so your dog can climb in and out without struggling. If it’s the first time you’re visiting, it’s always a good idea to keep your dog on a long line until you’re sure about any currents or hidden dangers under the surface.

If you’re looking for dog-friendly beach holidays, just do a little research before you set off. You can usually find dog-friendly beaches with a quick online search and when you’re out and about they tend to be clearly signed. Remember, the sea conditions can vary from day to day, so even on dog-friendly beaches the water might be too rough sometimes – just think carefully before you let them off their lead.


Can dogs go in swimming pools? 

Absolutely. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a dog friendly swimming pool  or your own paddling pool, your dog can take a dip with you. Just remember to keep a close eye on them. Dog friendly pools can be found across the UK from a quick search online.  

Public pools in the UK are less likely to welcome dogs, although some outdoor ones might, so if you’re wondering, where can I swim with my dog? Just check with the pool before you go.


Where should I avoid letting my dog swim? 

Canals and reservoirs might be great for a walk, but they can be dangerous spots for your dog to swim, with all sorts of hidden objects under the water, from fallen trees to rusty trolleys. They often have steep sides, so it’s harder for dogs to climb out, and canal water can be murky and dirty, causing upset tummies.

Fast-moving rivers and rough seas can also be dangerous, with currents that can quickly pull your dog out of their comfort zone and make it difficult for them to swim back to shore. If you’re in any doubt about where to swim with your dog, or you’re somewhere unfamiliar, keep them on a long line so it’s easier for you to help them if you need to.   You can even purchase specially designed dog life jackets if you want to be extra safe.


Do I need to dry my dog – even when it’s warm? 


Yes. Most dogs come bounding out of the water and give their fur a good shake – stand back people! – but even on warmer  days, that won’t be enough to get them really dry. Thick fur often stays soggy for a long time and your dog can easily start to feel too cold. This can even make their tail muscles seize up, leading to a painful condition called rudder tail, limber tail, swimmer’s tail or broken wag.

So, even if it’s a sunny  day, take the time to dry your dog properly after a swim. Most dogs love being stroked or having their fur rubbed, so make drying part of the fun. Rub them down with a towel, then  wrap them up in their favourite or a specially designed doggy drying jumper (photo shoot optional) to help them dry off, warm up and stay happy.


Can swimming make my dog unwell?


On the whole swimming is good exercise for dogs, and lots of them love it. But if you’re visiting a lake or pond where there’s standing, stagnant or very low-flowing water – especially if it hasn’t rained for a while – the water quality might not be great. 

If you’re in a country park, check the noticeboards for any warnings or updates about the water condition – they’ll often put up signs when there’s a problem. Blue-green algae can thrive in those conditions and it’s really dangerous for dogs, so if you see a warning notice or there’s a scum, or thick bloom, on the water’s surface, don’t let them swim. 

It’s a good idea to keep your dog’s leptospirosis vaccination up to date to give them extra protection against bacteria in the water. If you notice your dog obsessively drinking the water they’re in, it can make them poorly so get them out and dry. If you dog does seem unwell and not themselves after swimming, it’s always worth talking to your vet.    


 Should dogs eat before they swim? 

Most of us would avoid swimming straight after a meal, and it’s a good idea to take the same approach with your dog. Try not to take dogs swimming if they’ve eaten in the last two hours, and once they’re out of the water, wait another two hours before feeding them again.

That said, it’s ok to use a few meaty treats to encourage nervous swimmers to try the water, or reward boisterous pups for coming out when they’re called. Our pocket-friendly pouches and superfood snack bars  are great when you’re on the go, and we’ve got lots of tasty flavours to choose from.

When it does get to dinnertime, you might find swimming’s made your dog extra hungry. If they’ve wolfed down their dinner and still want more, those meaty treats and superfood snack bars are a quick, easy, healthy way to top them up and keep them happy. 


Quick swimming FAQs


Can I teach my dog to swim?

Most dogs can learn to feel happy in the water if you take things slowly, start in shallow water and give them lots of positive reinforcement.

Should puppies swim? 

Getting your puppy used to the water from a young age is a good idea, but wait until they’re at least 10 weeks old, then go gently, stay shallow and be guided by them.

Should puppies swim? 

Getting your puppy used to the water from a young age is a good idea, but wait until they’re at least 10 weeks old, then go gently, stay shallow and be guided by them.

Can dogs swim in the sea?

Yes, but only if the water’s calm and you know there aren’t any dangerous currents. If they’re new swimmers, keep them on a long lead in the shallows.

How long can dogs swim for?

Some dogs just enjoy the water so much it’s difficult to get them out! Swimming uses up lots of energy though, so always keep a close eye on them. If swimming is new to your dog, start with just a few minutes at first. Giving them a good break from the water every 5 to 10 minutes. More established swimmers will need plenty of rest breaks too. To keep them out of the water, you can sprinkle some treats on dry land for them to sniff out whilst they get their breath back.  

Is swimming good for dogs?

Yes! Swimming’s a great all-round strengthening and cardio exercise for dogs (and us!) – and it’s kinder on stiff or sore joints than walking or running.

To sum it all up…

Whether you’re splashing around on dog-friendly beaches or paddling in the local stream, taking your dog for a summer swim can be fun for everyone. It’s really good exercise, cools them (and probably everyone nearby) down and makes lots of great family memories. 

Just remember to keep your dog safe by choosing calm, clear water, using a long line in unfamiliar places and watching out for blue-green algae. Take treats  to reward good behaviour, bring towels to dry them off, and remember, if they don’t fancy a dip, that’s ok too.