Pets and Drowning

Summer and its hot weather have arrived with a vengeance. For many of us, this means heading up to the cottage, hanging out at a pool or going for lazy walks along the many shaded waterways. The cool water is a welcome relief from the heat, but we must remember that water safety is a must; especially with children and pets. Unfortunately, many children and pets drown each year in backyard pools and other bodies of water away from the home. In the US, it is thought that upwards of 5,000 family pets perish in backyard pools. Most pets can swim long enough to get to the waters edge, but will drown of exhaustion when they cannot get out of the pool. Strong currents in the running water of lakes and rivers can translocate a pet to an area where they can become disoriented and not able to find their way back to safety. If tragedy does strike, it is essential that you do not panic and instead initiate a pre-arranged emergency plan. Let’s do our best to prevent a problem and pet proof our pools and water areas by instituting the following safety tips.


  • Never leave a pet unsupervised around a pool. If possible fence off the pool from the other play areas of the yard. Electronic radio-fences are relatively inexpensive and work very well at keeping pets away from pools and other hazardous areas of the yard.

  • Install pet safe pool ladders for ease of getting out of the pool if steps are not present

  • Teach your pet where the stairs are located. Place a visual cue (flag) near the steps and guide your pet to the steps while in the water. Verbally praise him/her when he/she uses the steps. Practice exiting on the steps from different pool entry points.

  • Do not expect your dog to bark as this is very difficult when submerged in water.

  • Get your pet used to the water at a young age, so that you will know if he/she can or cannot swim. Heavily furred dogs like huskies and collies can become water logged if in the water to long. Heavy bodied dogs such as bull-dogs and mastiffs may sink due to their weight and may not be able to stay afloat.

  • Pool covers/solar blankets are very dangerous as they may appear like solid ground and when a pet walks onto the area they can become trapped under water.

  • Purchase a water alarm system such as the “safety turtle”. This product has a base station and an arm band component. The arm band portion can be attached to the dog/cat collar. If the pet falls into the water, the Turtle sensor sends a signal to Base Station which sounds a siren that continues until the system is reset. Information about Safety Turtle is available at

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