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Pugs and Swimming

Pug swimming in water
Q: Can My Pug dog go swimming?

Do all dogs know how to swim without teaching them and are the chemicals in my pool bad for him? ~ Tony G.

A: Hi Tony, great question. It is very important to be aware of water safety in regard to your Pug swimming, though it can be a fun summer activity. You do not mention how old your dog is; however one will want to be particularly careful with a small puppy.

All Pugs will be able to swim purely out of a natural and inbred instinct.. This does not mean that a dog will enjoy it! 
Sadly, some dog owners simply throw their dog in, expecting that he or she will instantly know what to do and paddle around happily. In most cases, the dog will be swimming for his life, as adrenaline kicks in for him to survive. It is best to let your Pug get used to water in a pool where their are boundaries and you will be able to retrieve him easily should he swim away.
The barrel shape of this breed does present more exertion to swim than some other breeds; however you will be the best judge to see if your dog enjoys the water and it will be your job to remain close in case he tires out too far from the edge.

Your dog's first time in the water will affect their feelings toward this activity. Therefore how you introduce this concept is important. To prepare, be sure that:
  • The water temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.55 Celsius)
  • The pool or lake is clear or obstacles
  • It is relatively quiet...not a lot of other swimmers, children, etc.
To make this an even better experience for your Pug try to:
  • Have an older, experienced dog in the water with you if possible
  • Floating toys that your dog may wish to swim to
You may coach your Pug to join you or you may hold him or her as you enter slowly. Offer him plenty of time to adjust to this new sensation. If your Pug swims for shore (or the edge of the pool) or appears frightened, allow him to exit and then just let him watch for a while. You may then try again. Most dogs, when given a pleasant experience will continue on to love this method of fun and cooling off on a hot day.

To keep your Pug safe:
  • Take him out of the water before he appears to have tired himself out; if you wait until he shows signs of being worn out this can quickly turn into a dangerous situation where you are trying to pull out a Pug that is scared and resisting help due to panic.
  • Supervise him at all times - Even those that learn to be pretty good swimmers also need to have an owner close by if not right beside them in the water
  • Remember that even though a dog is in water, he still needs water to drink.  Keep your Pug hydrated before and after any swimming

Regarding chemicals: Just as pool chemicals can irritate a person's skin, they will affect your Pug also. This breed has very sensitive eyes and skin. Limit the time to 5 or 10 minutes and evaluate if the chemicals have given rise to bloodshot eyes. If so, remove your dog. If your Pug seems to be able to tolerate the chlorine, you may add on 5 or 10 minutes each session in the pool. If irritation does occur, gently wash out your dog's eyes with fresh, clean water using a dropper.

It is highly recommended to use chloride alternatives which will keep your pool just as clean without using elements that could cause reactions to your Pug's eyes or skin. At any rate, no matter where you are swimming with your dog, be sure to rinse your Pug off very well after you are done to remove all traces of chlorine. 
Pug dog in lake
Lakes & Ponds

You'll want to make sure that any bodies of water are safe for humans to swim in before you let your Pug take a dip. Possible hazards of allowing a Pug to swim in a pond or lake include:

Blue-green Algae (Cyanobacteria) poisoning - Even very small exposure to this (just a mouthful of water with this sort of algae) can be fatal to dogs. Sings are vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma, shock, trouble breathing and even with treatment, it can be deadly. 

Liptosprirosis - This is a disease that is carried by the urine of wild animals.  Most dogs are only vaccinated by this if deemed at risk; so a Pug will not be protected unless an owner asked for this inoculation specifically and the Pug is up-to-date on shots. 
Contracting a wide range of gastroenteritis related illness due to bacteria and pathogens in unclean, untreated water.
Ears and Wrinkles Wet From Swimming

Just like your Pug's ears and wrinkles will become soaked after a bath and need proper drying, this must be done after a swim session as well.

After rinsing off your Pug and patting him dry, be sure to follow the grooming rules of swiping wrinkles with a Q-tip or canine facial wipes and dry the outer ear canals so that moisture does not remain as this can lead to an ear infection.
Did you find this article helpful? If so, you'll love The GIANT Book of Pug Care (available in both hard copy & eBook)
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