Chlorine in Pools: Is it Safe for Dogs?

Puppy swimming
Kokomo Herald / Flickr

Devoted pet owners like doing everything with their dogs. And swimming is one activity that’s included. That is especially true when canine owners live by the beach or pool. Or when they have their own swimming pool in the house.

A question or thought that may come up is, can dogs swim in chlorine pools? If you’ve thought about that question, then read on. Here we discuss what you need to know about dog safety in chlorine pools.

Why Do We Use Chlorine in Pools?

Chlorinating your pool is a cheaper option of ensuring safe water you can swim in. Chlorine has antibacterial effects that will keep your pool free from mold and algae buildup. And it will prevent harmful microorganisms from developing and breeding in your swimming pool.

With those benefits, chlorinated pools should basically be safe for both humans and their pet animals.

Dog swims in pool
Art by Vanessa / Flickr

How Much Chlorine Is Safe for Your Canine Pet?

We ask this to understand how often and how long can your dog safely wade and dog paddle in your chlorine pool.

As with humans, dogs are sensitive to high levels of chlorine. It’s best for you and your pet to avoid swimming in your pool when it’s just been treated with chlorine. Wait at least a week because the pool water is undergoing a ‘shock period” and chlorine levels peaks within that period.

Also, simply exercise common sense. Whenever you swim in a chlorinated pool for too long, your skin dries up, right? And your eyes get all red. That means your body has been exposed too much already.

That same goes for your dog’s body. Monitor how long you’ve both been in the pool and get out before your body gets overexposed to the chemical.

Is There an Alternative to Chlorine?

Yes. If you’re not comfortable having your dog swim in chlorinated pools, try alternatives. One is bromine. It’s less harsh than chlorine. So you and your dog won’t experience skin or eye irritation as much.

Why so? Because bromine’s more alkaline in nature. The pH level is around 4. So it’s less drying compared to chlorine, which is mostly Hypochlorous acid. It is highly acidic and registers as high as 8.5 pH.

Dog in the pool
Edie MacKenzie / Flickr

How Bad Can Chlorine Affect Your Dog?

While it may not be deadly, your dog can suffer from negative effects of ingesting chlorine. And a large amount of chlorine may pose serious health risks to your pet dog.

Keep chlorine and all other chemicals out of reach. This way you keep your family, pets, and especially young kids, safe at all times.

Some side effects to watch out for are diarrhea, watery eyes, and skin irritations. You may also notice some coughing, vomiting, and dehydration.

There are also visible effects of direct contact with chlorine. Besides dryness of skin, you may see some itching and red patches forming on your dog’s skin.

Drinking small amounts of chlorinated water while swimming may be unavoidable. It’s hard to monitor that while your dog is swimming in the pool. But it should be okay.

Dog swimming in the pool
PrincessValium / Flickr

Also, be careful of other additives that may cause health risks to your pet. These are often added to a swimming pool to condition or sanitize it. Examples are pool shock tablets and algaecides.

Ingesting large amounts of these can cause ulcers in the dog’s mouth. Ulcers may also form on the throat and even in the esophagus.

Make sure to check up on your dog’s condition, especially if it regularly swims in a chlorine pool. Untreated symptoms can easily worsen and lead to serious complications.

There’s been a report from the AVMA, which is the American Veterinary Medical Association. It cited an incident where a dog’s health quickly spiraled down after ingesting quick-dissolve chlorine granules.

In less than a day, the dog suffered from coughing, dehydration, and rapid breathing. There were also signs of depression. It’s fortunate that the dog was treated successfully and made a full recovery in 15 days.

The lesson we should get from that is to be very careful with how homeowners store chemicals around the house. And how people shouldn’t let their pet dogs swim in newly chlorine-treated pool water.

If you’re using a public or commercial pool that lets dogs swim in it, ask when it was chlorinated. Only swim when at least one week has already passed.

Yorkshire Terrier in the pool
Naql / Flickr

How Do You Keep Your Dog Safe in a Chlorine Pool?

You and your pet dog can still enjoy dipping and wading in chlorine pools. Just be mindful of a couple of things, like:

  1. Give your pet a good water down (with regular tap water) after it swims in the pool. This way, you can wash off as much of the chlorine as you can.
  2. Strip your dog of any collars and other accessories before letting it swim. This way, they won’t absorb the chlorine. And they won’t irritate your dog’s skin.
  3. Don’t let your dog stay too much in the pool. And make sure to barricade the pool area so it doesn’t get in unsupervised.

Final Thoughts

So we learned a couple of things. One is that you can let your dog swim in a chlorine pool with proper monitoring and safety precautions. Another is that you can scout for alternatives like bromine if you’re not comfortable using chlorine. The third is that you shouldn’t let your dog become overexposed to chlorine water. Most importantly, you should always keep your dog safe from accessing dangerous chemicals in the home.

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