Let your Westie Swim His Way to Good Health

Indulge your dog in a new health regime to ease joint pressure.

“Dogs move differently when swimming compared to on land, because of the decreased pressure on the joints and tendons the result is hugely beneficial to your dog by improving their range of motion in their joints”.

Most of us are now, finally, enjoying that bright yellow ball in the sky and warmer weather. Yet with warmer weather comes the added problem of keeping our furry loved ones cool and exercising them becomes harder due to the heat.

Swimming is a great form of exercise for our dogs, it helps to increase muscle strength, burn off excess energy and is a great cardiovascular workout, but remember NOT ALL DOGS CAN SWIM!

It is so inviting, when out in the park or at the beach, to let your dog plunge into the pond/stream or sea, but there are hidden dangers to consider whilst encouraging them to swim.

Swimming is a great way to keep them cool whilst working out. A five-minute swim is the equivalent of a five-mile run, so if your dog is new to swimming don’t allow them to swim for too long at a time, 10 minutes total is a good starting point, and it can be built up slowly to a recommended total of 30 minutes once or twice a week.

Swimming decreases the pressure placed on joints and tendons, which means it’s a great exercise for dogs recovering from surgery or injury but remember to seek professional advice first to make sure it is appropriate for them. Dogs move differently when swimming compared to on land, because of the decreased pressure on the joints and tendons the result is hugely beneficial to your dog by improving their range of motion in their joints. This in turn helps to create better movement on land. All this means that swimming is clearly beneficial for dogs with joint disorders and/or arthritis.

If dogs move differently in water when swimming, then it would be fair to say that we would too. While swimming can be a good form of exercise for our dogs, it can also be used to help bond owner and dog further. By being in the water playing with them it helps to stimulate the dog further, plus you also get a leg work out by walking in the water……now that’s a double win in my book.

So, while swimming is great for our furry friends (and us too) by helping burn calories and improve their metabolic rate, which is fantastic for overweight dogs, we also need to be aware of some dangers too:

  • Ear infections are not uncommon, so make sure you clean and dry the ears after swimming
  • Drinking too much water can be a problem, pool water can cause upset stomachs whilst sea water can affect the kidneys
  • It won’t harm your dog if it has been swimming in a chlorinated pool, but it may irritate their nose and eyes. Just wash your dog thoroughly to prevent their skin from drying out

What should I do after my dog has been swimming?

  • As with any form of exercise they will need to recover. Don’t be surprised if they sleep more, after all they have effectively run for miles in a short swim! Let them sleep, it will allow their muscles to repair and build
  • Give them plenty of fresh water, they sweat too remember
  • Make sure they have a healthy meal to aid muscle repair post exercise


Not all dogs are good swimmers, if you are wanting your dog to swim and they are either a novice/not good/older or have a weak core it may be worth using a floatation jacket initially but keep in mind some jackets can limit the range of motion in their shoulder joints. If the dog isn’t a good swimmer, I would still advocate a floatation jacket but if they are comfortable in the water I would advise swimming without one as long as they are properly supervised.

Remember to make sure that wherever they are swimming is safe:

  • Polluted water
  • Algae
  • Dangerous water animals
  • Tides and currents
  • Can you see the bottom – no sharp objects or waste that could cause harm

So let’s enjoy those lovely blue skies with that yellow ball of heat. Let’s all enjoy the summer safely and who knows – maybe your dog will keep swimming all year round, mine do!

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