One great way for your dog to beat the summer heat is to cool off in a pool or lake. If you’re lucky enough to live near the beach, you may also check out some dog-friendly shorelines for some fun in the sun.

As entertaining as it is to see dogs splashing and paddling in the water, safety is something we should all be thinking about before we hit the pool, lake, or beach. Here are a few facts you should know before you and your dog take on your next water-related adventure.

Not all dogs are good swimmers

While some dogs like Labrador Retrievers and Irish Setters are excellent swimmers, there are many that are not. Breeds with broad chests and short legs, such as Corgis, Pugs, and Bulldogs, have difficulty swimming. Muscular breeds, including American Pit Bull Terriers, Greyhounds, and Whippets, have a hard time in water too. They exert a lot of energy to keep their bodies afloat, causing them to tire easily.

If your dog falls into any of these breed categories, it doesn’t mean he can’t join in the fun. Just make sure your dog is equipped with a life jacket at all times and never force him into the water -- let him test the waters at his own speed and in his own time. And no matter what breed of dog you have, make sure to supervise him around pools, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water at all times.

Dog sunburns can happen

The sun’s rays are stronger near reflective surfaces like water, and although our dogs are covered in fur, some dogs may experience sunburn if exposed to the sun for a long period of time. Those with short fur, white fur, and pink skin are especially susceptible.

To avoid sunburn, remember to apply sunscreen to your dog’s nose and ears before going outdoors. Limit his time in the sun, help him avoid walking on hot surfaces to prevent paw blisters, and make sure you can provide a shady spot and fresh drinking water for frequent breaks.

Keep your dog safe from heat stroke

Swimming is a great way for dogs to stay cool, but the exercise they exert in the water, plus any other running they do around the pool, lake, or beach, can add up to a major increase in body temperature. That’s why it’s so important to monitor your dog while swimming and encourage frequent water and shade breaks. Prolonged time in the sun and water can exhaust a dog to the point of a heat stroke.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are two stages of heat stroke in dogs. Here are some of the signs you can look for within each stage:

Early Stage:

  • Heavy panting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bright red gums and tongue

Advanced Stage:

  • White or blue gums
  • Lethargy, unwillingness to move
  • Uncontrollable urination or defecation
  • Labored, noisy breathing
  • Shock

If your dog shows signs of these symptoms, take him to your veterinarian immediately.

For more water safety tips and ways your dog can safely beat the summer heat, visit the American Kennel Club.

BONUS READS: You and your dog have a fun-filled summer ahead! Check out these blog posts to help ensure that your adventures are safe. 5 Tricks for Keeping Your Dog Cool This Summer and How to Keep Your Dog Hydrated