Dog Smarts: Summer Safety and Swimming with Dogs

In this edition of Dog Smarts, we get to hear from the highly-regarded Paul F. Knubley, DVM. He is the owner and sole practitioner at Oakville Veterinary Office, not too far from our South County location.

Paul F. Knubley, DVM

You might recognize this sign.

Dr. Knubley has been practicing veterinary medicine for 32 years, so he’s seen what St. Louis summers can bring for dogs and their owners. Now’s our chance to learn from his experience.

Let’s get right to it.


Are there any general safety tips for swimming with dogs aside from maintaining supervision and making sure they know how to exit the water?

Good question. With the current floodwater states in our area, it’s important to make sure lakes and rivers are not flooding. And check for undertow. Use safety gear from pet stores that are size appropriate, and make sure you are prepared to help them out of pools with ladders.


Do dogs need life jackets?

Yes, all breeds need life jackets. They can tire out before you realize it. Furthermore, life jackets won’t improve swimming, just flotation. Dogs can still drift downstream, so always make sure you are in a position to assist them if necessary.


Is it okay for dogs to swim in chlorinated pools?

Yes, but it can cause skin rash, vomiting, diarrhea and paw and skin burns. Be sure to rinse pets with tap water after being in the pool.


How hot is too hot for a dog to enjoy outdoor activities?

Heat and humidity can make it unpleasant for all breeds. If it’s high humidity and under 85 degrees, it can still be dangerous. Limit direct sun to 15 minutes or less. Never leave animals outdoors without supervision. Never leave a pet in a car for any time during hot weather.


What are the signs of heat stroke, and how should they be treated?

Excessive panting, red eyes, dry mouth, drunk-like posture, vomiting, diarrhea. Do not expose pets to high temperatures, and do not leave in cars or yards. Short walks early in the morning and late morning. Always have fresh water for your pets.


We’ve heard dog’s coats offer insulation, maintaining body temperature in both heat and cold. Should long-haired dogs be shaved to help cool them off?

Yes, if the pet owner chooses. Light-colored animals may sunburn easily.


Thanks, Dr. Knubley. We appreciate your time and advice for our summer activities with our dogs.