As summer heats up, dogs and their humans are hitting the beach and the pool. For the dogs that enjoy swimming, playing in the water can be a highlight of their week.
But some dogs have a bad habit of drinking their swimming water nonstop. Whether it’s saltwater, chlorinated poolwater, or even just copious amounts of freshwater, this habit can be dangerous for your pup.
This reader asked us,
“Our dog loves swimming, and we want to encourage her to swim because of her bad knees – but she gulps the poolwater when she swims which makes her sick. How do we stop her from gulping pool water?”
– Pool Party Pooper
I’ve personally dealt with this problem with my dog Barley. When we lived in Latin America, he’d sprint up and down the beaches, gulping saltwater until he got what we affectionately termed “firehose butt,” then he’d start all over again. This was pretty dangerous, let alone disgusting.
Here’s what we did to put an end to my dog’s water gulping.
- Offer lots of tasty water. Put a bit of bouillon into your dog’s water to make it tastier, then offer it to your dog frequently. Swimming is hard work, so ensuring that your dog is super well-hydrated before and during the activity should reduce water-drinking to a degree.
- Utilize time-outs. Put your dog on a long leash (I used a 30-foot long line) and reel your dog in out of the water when she starts gulping water. She’ll learn that swimming is OK, but gulping water makes the fun stop.
- Offer something to keep her mouth full. Some dogs happily chomp at the water because it’s fun! In this case, encouraging your dog to chomp on a squeaky toy might reduce the water-gulping. Make sure you make the toy exciting by playing with her a lot – otherwise she might abandon it.
- Consider a muzzle. A well-fit basket muzzle should allow your dog to drink (and pant, which is important if she’s working hard while swimming). That said, muzzles do make drinking a bit more difficult. Letting your dog swim with a comfy muzzle on is a great way to stop her from drinking so much water that she pukes.
The bottom line is, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. When I was working on this issue with Barley, we found that offering him fresh flavored water and removing him from the ocean when he tried to drink seawater did the trick.
Kayla is from Ashland, Wisconsin but lives in Missoula Montana. She holds a degree in biology from Colorado College and has spent years working in zoos, animal shelters, as a private dog trainer, and with working detection K9s. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. She shares her life with her border collie Barley.