Should I Wash My Dog After Swimming in the Pool?

Dogs who enjoy swimming in the pool are more prone to dry, dull coats because of the chlorine. This is why some dog owners wash their dogs right after taking a dip.

Is it a must to wash my dog after swimming in the pool?

Yes, but there’s no need to shampoo and conditioner them every day. 

Learn why you should wash your dog after swimming in the pool and how to pool-proof their skin and coat.

Follow our steps to wash your dog after being in the pool and find out how often you should do it.

This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We thank you for your support.
Wash dog after swimming

Why Wash Your Dog After Swimming in the Pool?

Washing your dog after swimming in the pool is a no-brainer. But do you know why it is important?

Chlorine Makes Light-Colored Fur Green

Chlorinated water has a slight bleaching effect on dogs’ coats. If your dog has a dark coat, the effect is not noticeable. However, dogs with light fur tend to turn green after swimming.

You may have experienced this before as well. If you just recently bleached your hair then went for a swim, you’ll see that your tips start turning green.

Some breeds that are more prone to green fur after swimming include:

  • Golden Retriever
  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • Viszla
  • Samoyed
  • Maltese
  • Bichon Frise.

If you don’t wash your dog’s fur right after swimming, the chances of their fur turning green increase. 

Chlorine Dries the Skin and Fur

The chemicals in chlorinated water can cause dry skin and fur, especially when they swim for a long time or when the chlorine levels in the pool are too high.

In a study of dogs in swimming courses, 20% of the 412 experienced dry hair, while 19% had dry skin. 

Some signs that your dog has dry skin include:

  • dandruff
  • flaking
  • hair loss
  • inflammation
  • itchiness
  • scaling.

Meanwhile, some signs that your dog has dry fur include:

  • brittle hair
  • dandruff
  • dull, lackluster appearance
  • itching.

Compared to conventional chlorine water, saltwater pools tend to be less harsh on dogs because they do not have additional chemical byproducts that can cause issues.

Saltwater and Sun Can Cause Dry Skin and Fur

Saltwater pools are generally safer than chlorine water because they do not have chloramines that can be drying for the skin. 

But it can have an effect on your dog’s skin and fur.

The sun outside can cause the saltwater on their skin and coat to dry faster, which then affects their body.

Your dog’s fur may be more protected due to the lack of chloramines in a saltwater pool, but other factors can cause them to end up with dry skin. 

This means you still have to give them a wash after swimming in a saltwater pool. If they are just taking a quick break from swimming be sure to keep them in the shade.

Pool Water Can Cause Tangled and Matted Fur

In general, water can contribute to a dog’s tangled and matted hair. It can be worse if it’s chlorinated water or saltwater. 

If your dog goes for a quick swim then rubs their back on the grass, this can further tangle the fur on their back. 

Washing them with the right conditioner after swimming will soften the hair and remove tangles. 

However, before washing your dog, we recommend giving them a good brush to avoid further matting. 

Pool Water Can Cause Itchy Skin

In the previous study we mentioned, the most common side effect observed in dogs after swimming is itchy skin. This itchiness is a symptom of dry and irritated skin.

Because chlorine strips the skin of its natural oils, the barrier is compromised, and the skin is more vulnerable to irritants. 

Aside from the dry and flaky appearance, red bumps and rashes can appear when your dog keeps scratching their skin. It can also become red, swollen, or tender.

Your dog may over-groom themselves if this occurs, which only causes more infection and irritation. 

Washing dogs after swimming

How to Wash Your Dog After Swimming in the Pool

If your dog swims almost every day, bathing them after every swim can do more harm than good. 

Rinse your dog completely with fresh water and then completely dry them.

This will help remove all the chemicals and pathogens that might lead to dry hair and skin infections. 

If your dog only swims occasionally, it’s a good idea to give them a full shampoo bath afterward to reduce the side effects of the pool water. 

If your dog is continuously in and out of the pool during the day, you don’t have to rinse them each time. 

To avoid dry skin and fur, let them rest in a shady place before diving back in and then rinse them off at the end of the day.

Here are some other post-pool grooming tips for your dog.

Detangle Matted Fur

It’s important to detangle matted fur after your dog swims so that their coat remains silky and well-pampered. 

We recommend removing mats before you wash your dog. Dry their whole body after swimming then brush out the mats with the help of a comb, brush, and detangling sprays. 

Pat Your Pet Deshedding Brush - Double-Sided Undercoat Rake for Dogs & Cats - Shedding and Dematting Tool for Grooming

Try Pat Your Pet’s 2-Sided Undercoat Rake. This stainless steel and rubber tool effectively removes all the mild and severe tangles on your dog’s fur without them feeling the pain.

It has 17 teeth that also help with de-shedding dogs with long coats. The rake also comes with a free engravable collar tag.

Do not remove mats from wet fur because water can make them tighter. 

Use Mild Soap

To remove the harsh chemicals that cling to your dog’s fur, bathe them using a mild soap or conditioner. Massage it to their undercoat to remove chlorine and salt. 

Try WashBar Natural Dog Soap Bar. Specifically made for itchy and sensitive skin, this soap bar is made of all-natural ingredients that wash better than liquid shampoo and conditioner. 

WashBar Natural Dog Soap Bar - Natural Dog Shampoo Bar and Dog Shampoo for Smelly Dogs with Sensitive Skin, Easier to Use Than Liquid Pet Shampoo with No Plastic Bottle Waste, 2-Pack

The ingredients of this soap include neem leaf, lemon-scented tea tree oil, and manuka oil to keep their fur moisturized, clean, and soft. 

It’s also affordable with one bar of soap equal to 600ml of liquid shampoo.

Make sure to rinse well to remove soap residue. Dry them with a towel, especially their ears to avoid the development of infections. 

Moisture left on their body, along with the lack of airflow, can cause bacteria and germs that lead to irritation and infection. 

Brush Their Hair Again After Showering

Giving your dog’s fur a good brush after bathing will help maintain their silky and smooth coat. 

Hartz Groomer's Best Combo Dog Brush

For a post-bathing brush, we recommend Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Dog Brush

Designed by professional groomers, the double-sided brush is gentle in de-shedding, detangling, and keeping your dog’s fur shiny.

One side uses stainless steel teeth to remove loose fur, while the other distributes the oil to the rest of the hair.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog After Swimming?

You don’t need to give your dog a full bath after every swimming session. 

If they swim every day, bathing them once or twice a week is enough to keep their coat clean and soft.

While you don’t need to shampoo and conditioner your dog every after a swim, you still need to wash off the chlorine with fresh, clean water. 

Washing your dog with water also rinses off any dirt and sand that can make their skin itchier and smell bad.

Allowing the chlorine to sit on their skin and fur can irritate them even more. If they have white or golden coats, they may turn green.

The reason why you shouldn’t shampoo your dog every day is that the chemicals in these products can strip off your dog’s natural oils even more. It may do more harm than good.

Even if you use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, once a week is enough. 

How to Pool-Proof Your Dog’s Coat and Skin

Aside from bathing your dog with moisturizing shampoo and conditioner once or twice a week, here are some preventive measures to take for dogs who love to swim in the pool.

Detangle Their Fur

Combing their hair before and after bathing is one way to detangle their fur from swimming. It also reduces the bad odor since dead hair is removed. 

Find the best detangler spray that brushes out knots and conditions your dog’s fur.

Fatty Acids in Diet

One way to avoid dry skin and coat in dogs is by adding omega-3 fatty acids to their diet. To guarantee that they keep their skin healthy from within, give them supplements like Zesty Paws Chew Treats.

Zesty Paws Omega 3 Alaskan Fish Oil Chew Treats for Dogs - with AlaskOmega for EPA & DHA Fatty Acids - Itch Free Skin - Hip & Joint Support + Skin & Coat Chicken Flavor (90 Soft Chews)

These treats also contain other vitamins and nutrients that help with dryness, itching, irritation, and sensitivity. 

Protect the Skin and Paws

Dogs can hurt their paws, skin, and nose with sunburn if they spend too much time under the sun. Apply sunscreen on your dog’s skin and paws before swimming.

Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets, 3.5 oz

Try Epi-Pet’s Sun Protector Spray. This FDA-certified sunscreen is easy to apply and acts as a skin and coat conditioner.

After swimming, make sure their paws are moisturized using something like Pet Head Oatmeal Natural Paw Butter.

It contains shea butter, oatmeal, mango, vitamins E and F, and coconut oil.

Pet Head Oatmeal Natural Paw Butter 2oz

This paw moisturizer is gentle and Eco-friendly, not disrupting the pH balance of your dog. 

Ear Wash

Dry the insides of your dog’s ears after swimming to prevent odor and infections. Weekly application of ear wash ensures their good hygiene.

Try Pet MD Veterinary Tris Ear Flush. This solution does not cause any allergic reactions or stinging. 

It’s gentle yet powerful in flushing out all the dirt on your dog’s ears. It also gets rid of odor, redness, and discharge.

Pet MD Veterinary Tris Flush Cat & Dog Ear Cleaner - Dog Ear Flush and Infection Treatment with Ketoconazole - 12 oz

Swimming Dogs Require More Grooming.

Because they are more prone to irritation and sensitivity, dogs who take frequent dips in the pool require more fur and skincare. 

Make sure to protect them with sunscreen and moisturizer and bathe them with a moisturizing conditioner.

But you don’t have to do it every day. Once a week is enough if you rinse the chlorine off their body daily. 

Learn more about how chlorine affects your dog.