Summer and swimming pools go hand in hand. Just as we get hot our pets are also tempted to have a dip when they are feeling too hot. While most of them are keen to go for a swim when the other family members are in the pool, some get more adventurous and get in water while we are away from home.

Dogs and cats can swim or at least stay afloat but not for too long. If they get in the pool without us noticing and then are unable to get out by themselves, it could be fatal.

Drownings or near drownings, are not uncommon. Like many other hazards at home, it is something we have to keep an eye on.

What can I do if I've found my pet in the pool?

Well, it depends how serious it is.... many can be hypothermic (that is, too low body temperature) especially in cold weather. Dry them off and keep them warm and most of them will be fine. However if the pet is unconscious it is way more serious. Remove your pet from the water and check for vital signs. If the heart beat is still present, try CPR.

Pressing on the chest with the head  lower than the body  should expel most of the water from the lungs and make it possible for your pet to breathe. If you have nobody to assist you, a chest massage with your pet lying on its side could do the trick. Once the water is expelled from the lungs you my attempt "mouth to nose" breathing to force some air into your pets' lungs. This may open up the airways and make it easier for your pet to breathe.

Once the breathing is established, keep your pet warm and transfer to your closest Vets4Pets ASAP. Vets4Pets do have facilities to deal with these emergencies. Your pet may need oxygen and a hospital stay. Prognosis can vary from good to very poor if secondary complications occur such as pneumonia.

How do I prevent this from happening?

  1. Current laws in SA regulate that all pools must be fenced in. Make sure that your fence is functional and there are no gaps in it and the gate is working properly. Little dogs fit through little gaps.
  2. It is a great idea to have steps or a ramp going into the pool so if an adventurous pet gets in, it can find a way to safety.
  3. Pool covers are not safe enough!
  4. Leave your pet inside the house if possible so they do not have access to the pool while you are away.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday.