Is Pool Chlorine Safe for Dogs?

There is a common misconception that all dogs like to swim. Although this isn’t strictly true, there are plenty of dogs of all breeds and sizes that love nothing more than a cool and refreshing dip in the water. Some simply like a run around in the shallows, while others are happy to swim out beyond their depth and doggy paddle to their hearts content.

In the warm summer months there is nothing better than cooling off with a swim in our backyard pool, but is it a safe place for your dog to swim too?

Almost all residential swimming pools use chlorine because it carries out three main functions with regards to keeping them clean.

  1. It sanitizes (kills bacteria and germs)

  2. It oxidizes (controls organic debris from our bodies such as perspiration and naturally occurring oils)

  3. It deters algae

Chlorine is a pretty strong chemical, and this is why there are strict health department guidelines for its use within swimming pools. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website states that chlorine levels of 1.0 to 3.0 parts per million fall within most health department guidelines. The majority of humans can swim in chlorine levels like this without any ill effects, although some people notice that their skin, eyes or lungs feel irritated after spending a large amount of time in the pool. Humans can also ingest small amounts of chlorine without suffering any great harm.

However, our canine companions are far more susceptible to chlorine than we are. A dog’s eyes, nose and ears are much more sensitive than a human’s and as such may be significantly more affected by chlorine sensitivity.

Symptoms of reaction to chlorine

If your pet is showing sensitivity to chlorine, he may exhibit some or several of the following symptoms:

  • Breathlessness

  • Coughing

  • Itching/scratching

  • Sneezing

  • Watery or red eyes

  • Wheezing

What can I do to prevent a reaction to chlorine?

Unless your dog experiences very severe reactions to the chlorine in your pool, there are some things that you can do so that your pet can still enjoy a swim with you. These include:

  • Discouraging your dog from drinking the pool water. This is important to protect his airways and stomach.

  • Give your dog a quick shower off with a hose after he has had a dip to get the chemicals off of his skin.

  • Dry his ears thoroughly but gently with a soft towel or blow dryer to keep them free from moisture and help prevent against infection.

Are there any alternatives to chlorine?

If you would still prefer to use an alternative to chlorine, then you could consider bromine. Although very similar, bromine does not have such a strong odor, not does it cause such strong bleaching side effects. However, it is significantly more expensive than chlorine, and is less effective in direct sunlight. We highly recommend that you speak to your pool professional and get an opinion as to whether bromine is a suitable solution for your swimming pool.

Whether you choose chlorine or bromine to sanitize your pool, make sure that you keep the chemicals firmly locked away where your pets nose, mouth and paws are unable to reach them!