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Can my dog or cat drink water from the pool?

Yorkshire dog drinking pool water

Is it safe for pets to drink pool water?

© Simon Laprida - Shutterstock

Does your dog or cat have a habit of drinking water from the pool instead of its bowl, and you are wondering if this is dangerous for them? Here are the answers to your questions!

By Emilie Heyl

Updated on the

In summer, dogs often like to swim in the pool with their owners, and drink a few drops of chlorinated water at the same time! And cats, although less fond of swimming, may be tempted to drink the water from the pool during a walk in the garden. Should you be concerned about your dog or cat drinking pool water?

Is it safe for my dog to drink pool water?

Most swimming pool water contains chlorine, which can cause serious digestive problems, dehydration and even poisoning. For these reasons, it is not advisable to let your dog drink from the pool. But don't worry! If your dog has only had a few sips of pool water, this should not be a problem.

Now, with that being said, if your dog is used to swimming in your pool, it’s important you make sure that your pooch does not swallow too much water while swimming or playing in the water. As we said above, not only can this lead to digestive problems, but large amounts of water can also cause stomach torsion-dilation syndrome. Excessive water intake can cause the stomach to swell and close in on itself by rotating. This syndrome constitutes a surgical emergency for the dog and puts its vital prognosis at risk. The risk of stomach dilatation-torsion exists in all dogs but is more common in large dogs.

The best way to prevent it is to stop your dog swimming if you notice that he is ingesting large amounts of water.

Also, chlorine and other chemicals used to sanitise swimming pool water can be irritating to the dog's skin and mucous membranes when swimming. It will therefore be necessary to rinse your dog's coat thoroughly with clear shower water after each swim. Also remember to rinse your dog’s eyes and the inside of his ears with eye and ear solutions suitable for dogs. Saline solution can also be used to prevent conjunctivitis and ear infections.

To resume, it is not safe for dogs to drink pool water and it can actually be dangerous. But, it’s important to keep in mind that swimming pools have other hazards for dogs in particular a major risk of drowning. It is therefore very important to never leave your dog unattended in the pool, as not all dogs are excellent swimmers and your dog may find it difficult to get out of the pool alone. When you are away, always protect the access to your pool with a safety fence. You never know! Your dog might be tempted to take a dive out of your sight.

Is it safe for a cat to drink pool water?

It is often said that cats do not like to get wet. However, this is not always true, as it is known that if a kitten has been used to being in contact with water from an early age, it will not develop any particular fear as an adult. Nevertheless, it is true that many cats do not like to be in wet environments because their coat retains water. Moreover, it is very rare that a cat likes to have its head and ears wet. Now, with that being said, if you have a swimming pool in your garden, you must be careful and prevent your cat from falling into the pool, as it could have difficulty getting out.

It's a well-known fact that cats like to drink everywhere but in their water bowl. So it is not impossible that your feline will decide to drink directly from the pool. However, your swimming pool contains chemicals, such as chlorine, which your cat should never ingest.

Two or three occasional sips will probably not have a big impact on your feline’s health. However, if your cat comes to the pool several times a day to drink the water, there is cause for concern. Chlorine is a danger, but so is cyanuric acid, the stabiliser associated with it. If your feline drinks a lot of it - whether voluntarily or involuntarily - it is best to contact a vet quickly, so that he can set up treatment to prevent the onset of poisoning symptoms. In most cases, this will involve hospitalisation to put him on a drip and monitor his condition until he is out of danger.

The symptoms of pool water poisoning

The symptoms of a dog or a cat with pool water poisoning can vary depending on the disinfectant used: they are not exactly the same depending on whether the water contains a particular chemical. However, chlorine, bromine and salt (which are the most commonly used in swimming pools) all cause rapid dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration in cats and dogs include diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, which unfortunately increase the loss of fluids from the body and thus aggravate the condition, causing a vicious circle.

If the amount of pool water swallowed is large, dehydration can lead to more serious symptoms, such as convulsions, loss of consciousness and even coma and death. So it is certainly not a problem to be taken lightly.

What should I do if my dog or cat drinks the water from the pool?

If your pet takes a few swigs of chlorinated water from time to time, this should not cause any particular problems, even if it is not good for them. 

If your pet has drunk a large amount of chlorinated or salty water keep a close eye one your pet for the next few hours and if any symptoms of intoxication start appearing, such as your pet is sluggish, dehydrated or has digestive problems, contact your vet quickly for advice.

How can I stop my dog or cat from drinking the water from the pool?

Better be safe than sorry! Since cats who like to swim are quite rare, it is much easier to prevent pool water poisoning than with a dog. But cats being curious creatures are also at risk. Let’s find out how you can prevent your dog or cat from drinking water from the pool.

First of all, make sure you always provide water bowls with fresh water for your pet. Place them in the garden and/or next to your swimming pool.

Secondly, you should try to get your dog to drink fresh water just before swimming, to avoid the temptation to drink the pool water when swimming. Also, avoid letting your pooch stay in the pool for too long. The longer he stays in the pool, the more tempted he will be to try the water, especially if he is thirsty from swimming!

Thirdly, whether your pool is inside or outside, you can install a safety barrier, such as the one used when you have small children. This will also prevent any risk of drowning, and the barrier can be easily removed when you want to go for a swim.

Also, you should avoid overdosing your pool with chemicals, and if possible just put the minimum doses needed to disinfect the water in your pool because this will limit danger in the event of accidental or voluntary ingestion.
 
Last but not least, if your dog or even your cat likes to swim in the pool, remember to rinse your pet with fresh water once he is out of the pool, to remove chlorine and other chemicals from its coat and prevent it from swallowing water while grooming.
 
These few tips are not a miracle solution to guarantee zero risk; however, they greatly reduce the likelihood of your pet getting intoxicated with pool water.

Enjoy your summer!

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