Can Dogs Swim in Saltwater Pools?

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Yes! It’s safe for dogs to swim in saltwater pools as long as the salt levels are safe. 

Learn whether saltwater pools are safe and how saltwater affects dogs. You’ll also learn whether puppies can swim in saltwater pools.

Explore the possibility of saltwater making your dog sick, if dogs can drink it, and whether it’s bad for their skin.

You’ll also find out more about swimming pool safety for dogs.

Dogs swimming in cold water

Are Saltwater Pools Safe for Dogs?

Yes. Swimming in saltwater pools is safe for dogs as long as you follow a few guidelines, such as not letting your dog ingest saltwater.

Saltwater pools use salt to cleanse the pool and make it safe for swimming. It requires a balance between alkalinity, pH, and calcium hardness.

It uses some chlorine too. The Saltwater Chlorination system promotes salt breakdown, turning to chlorine. 

The strength of saltwater pools comes from electrolysis through pool-grade salt. 

A saltwater pool is considered safer than the traditional chlorine pool because the amount of chlorine is lower and therefore less corrosive. 

It produces chlorine on its own, compared to a chlorinated pool that uses chlorine tablets. 

To make a saltwater pool safe for dogs, it’s important to train them to only drink water from their bottle or bowl, and not from the pool. 

The salt content of saltwater pools may be low, but it may be enough to cause some issues for your dog.

Another way to keep your dog safe while swimming in a saltwater pool is by not letting them swim too long. Make sure to rinse them with fresh water after swimming. 

Other than that, there’s nothing to worry about. Saltwater is safe at low levels, specifically between 2700 and 3400 parts per million.

Is Salt Water Bad for Dogs?

It depends.

In general, saltwater is safe for your dogs, but it can be toxic in large quantities. If your dog gets exhausted paddling in the pool, they may end up drinking saltwater from it.

Remember that swimming, especially at energetic levels, can overtire your dog. There’s a chance that they will drink from the pool water. 

This may not cause any severe complications at first, as with chlorine water. Thankfully, the salinity levels in saltwater pools are low and there is no need to panic. 

But large quantities can be toxic to your dogs. It can cause lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Salt is poisonous in substantial amounts, so make sure they have fresh, cool water available all the time. 

Do not leave your dog unsupervised and stop them if you see them trying to drink from the pool. 

A minor risk associated with saltwater pools is skin dryness. Despite its benefits for dogs, it can cause a flaky, dull coat that is more prone to skin irritation.

Make sure to rinse your dog with fresh water after every swimming session to avoid dry skin and fur.

How Does Salt Water Affect Dogs?

If your dog ingests saltwater or spends too much time swimming in saltwater, here are some risks that may occur.

Water Toxicity

This is unlikely to happen but drinking too much of any kind of water can cause water toxicity. 

It occurs when they swallow excessive amounts of water, especially when playing in the pool. 

Some signs of water intoxication in dogs include:

  • bloating 
  • dilated pupils
  • excessive salivation 
  • glazed eyes
  • lethargy 
  • loss of coordination
  • nausea 
  • vomiting 
  • weakness.

Salt Toxicity

A saltwater pool is safe, but too much salt can also cause poisoning to your dog. The most common symptoms of salt toxicity are excessive urination and salivation, although the following may also be observed:

  • agitation
  • comatose
  • convulsions
  • diarrhea 
  • fluid buildup
  • high fever
  • increased heart rate
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • respiratory issues
  • seizures
  • stomachache 
  • tongue swelling.

Dry Skin and Fur

It is common for dogs and humans to experience dry skin and hair after swimming in both chlorine pools and saltwater pools. 

That’s because the chemicals from both types of water strip off the natural oils of your dog’s skin and hair. The result is dry, red, and itchy skin, along with a dull coat. 

This can be avoided by conditioning your dog’s hair before and after swimming.

Dogs in saltwater pool

Can Puppies Swim in Saltwater Pools?

Yes. Any well-maintained pool is safe for puppies to swim in.

It is recommended over letting them swim in the ocean or lake, where algae and bacteria may thrive. 

A saltwater pool is a wonderful place to train your puppy how to swim. Most of the time, they can learn this skill on their own.

But they will need your help in building confidence in the water. A small pool is a great start.

You can start teaching your puppy to swim as early as 10 weeks old. But some dogs that are not bred to swim may only learn to swim at five months.

Either way, taking your time is important. Don’t rush your puppy into learning how to swim. Otherwise, they will associate the pool with bad experiences. 

Can Dogs Drink Salt Water?

No. Dogs should not drink salt water. 

Although the occasional sip from the saltwater pool is not a cause of concern because of the low salt levels in the pool, too much can poison them. 

Merck Veterinary Manual states that around 2.2 teaspoons of salt per pound of body weight are the toxic dose. It’s hard to measure this with the salt chlorinator diluted in water. 

It’s also worth noting that salt isn’t the only chemical present in saltwater. It also contains the following:

  • alkaline
  • pH
  • chlorine
  • cyanuric acid
  • calcium
  • metals.

If your dog drinks excessive amounts of saltwater, they may get an upset stomach. Some experience vomiting and diarrhea due to the other chemicals. 

This means that salted water can interrupt the fluid balance in your dog’s body, leading to dehydration and digestive irritation.

Can Saltwater Pools Make Dogs Sick?

Yes, but it rarely happens. 

The chances of your dog getting sick due to saltwater pools are incredibly low because the salt levels are approximately 10 times lower than in the ocean.

As mentioned, as long as the saltwater levels in the pool are within the safe range, then you should not worry about toxicity or any severe reaction to the water. 

Drinking a small amount of saltwater from the pool will not make your dog sick. But drinking saltwater from the ocean can because it has around 35,000 parts per million of salt. 

There is also an exceptionally low chance of chlorine poisoning because chlorine levels in saltwater are lower than in chlorine-treated pools. 

However, the actual chemicals can kill your dog if you leave them unattended. Make sure your chlorinator, chlorine tablets, and other tools are out of your dog’s reach.

Is Saltwater Pool Bad for Dogs Skin?

Even though saltwater has benefits for your furry friend, it has more risks for their skin and fur. 

We know that too much bathing time can cause the skin to dry, but saltwater and chlorine water increases the severity of the dryness. 

Your dog may experience dry and flaky skin, along with a dull coat due to prolonged swimming.

But it also depends on the breed of your dog. Breeds that are bred to swim also have naturally oily coats. 

This means they are less prone to dry skin and fur. The coat can also avoid the absorption of saltwater. 

Some breeds that are less susceptible to dry skin when swimming include:

  • Chesapeake Retrievers
  • Husky
  • Pomeranian
  • Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Shiba Inu.

To avoid these side effects, make sure to condition your dog’s coat before and after swimming. Don’t leave them in the pool for a long time. 10-30 minutes of swimming is enough for a workout. 

Dogs and saltwater pools

Swimming Pool Safety for Dogs

Here are some additional tips to follow for your dog’s safety in the pool. 

Maintain the Pool

A pool that is not well-maintained is more dangerous for your dog than a salt-treated pool. In case your dog ingests water from a dirty pool, they may swallow various kinds of bacteria and parasites in the water.

Fecal matter of your dog, hair and other debris may also accumulate in the pool if not well-maintained. Focus your concern on keeping it clean instead of lowering the salt or chlorine levels because of the extremely minimal risk of toxicity. 

Provide Lots of Water

Providing your dog with a bottle of fresh, cool water is a no-brainer! Dogs get easily tired after swimming because their whole body moves during the activity.

Some will drink any water they find, resulting in the ingestion of pool water.

While small sips are considered safe, too much can lead to bloating and digestive issues. 

Make sure your dog has access to clean water every time.

Safety Gear

Some dogs are bred to swim, so the pool may seem safe enough for them.

But for puppies, dogs who are still learning how to swim, senior dogs who need assistance, and short-legged dogs, swimming gear is necessary.

A life jacket or life vest should provide buoyancy to your dog while keeping them comfortable as they paddle. They may also need goggles, floating toys, towels, and sunscreen. 

Find out what essential swimming gear you need for your dog now.

Rinsing Your Dog

Rinse your dog with fresh water after every swim to ensure that no saltwater or chlorine water is left on their body.

Run your fingers through their hair from their head to their toes. Dry them thoroughly because moisture can also cause infection or irritation.

Learn more about whether you should wash your dog after every swim.