Can Chihuahuas Swim? All You Need To Know

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Taking your dog swimming can be a great bonding experience between you and your dog, as well as a great source of exercise for your dog.

Now, I bet you are wondering if chihuahuas can swim. The simple answer is, Yes they can, although Chihuahuas aren’t built to be great swimmers, they are naturally able to swim.

With that being said, I did further research taking a deeper look into what you need to know to ensure your chihuahua is safe and ensure you have fun while swimming.

Do Chihuahuas Like Swimming?

Chihuahuas are known to be feisty, sassy, tiny dogs with the tendencies of disregarding their tiny size and inserting themselves into dicey situations, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if your chihuahua runs into a pool without accessing the situation first.

Chihuahuas liking swimming can vary from dog to dog, while some would quickly run towards a lake or a pool, others would rather stay on dry ground or stick to the floating tube.

chihuahua swimming
chihuahua swimming

Due to their tiny nature, chihuahuas are known to easily get overwhelmed by the vastness of water and tend to tire themselves out quickly when they get into the water src.

Can Chihuahuas swim in Chlorinate Pools?

Chlorine is used in our pools to kill germs and bacteria such as Ecoli and Salmonella src and could be found in most outdoor pools. Armed with this information, it would be wise to wonder if chlorine pools are safe for chihuahuas to swim in and the simple answer is Yes, Chlorinated pools are safe for your chihuahuas to swim in.

It is important to keep the chlorine tablets away from your chihuahua’s reach as they can be fatal if ingested. An alternative to non-chlorine chemicals for pools, that is safe for pets, would be Bromine src.

According to the American Kennel Club, here are some best practices to always remember when going for a swim in a chlorine pool with your chihuahua:

  • Ensure your chihuahua is trained to not lick or drink the pool water, as it could result in complications.
  • Keep fresh water handy in case your chihuahua ingests the pool water.
  • Rinse your chihuahua with fresh water after it hops out of the pool to remove any excess chemicals.
  • Dry your chihuahua up, ensuring any remaining pool water is dabbed of their ears and fur.

Can Chihuahuas swim at the Beach (in Saltwater)?

Going to the beach can be a great way to unwind and relax, if you will be taking your chihuahua with you, it would be wise to know if you should take it swimming.

Chihuahuas can swim at the beach (in saltwater) but I would strongly advise against it.

Chihuahuas swimming in the sea
Chihuahuas swimming in the sea

Aside from the obvious risk of a strong current whisking your chihuahua away, the possibility of your chihuahua ingesting salt water should also be a cause for alarm, as salt, when ingested in large quantities could be fatal to a dog.

Too much salt, when ingested, can cause some serious health effects. Such as seizures, a loss of brain cells, injury to the kidneys, and severe dehydration and If a dog with saltwater poisoning isn’t treated medically, the condition can easily lead to death src.

A noticeable symptom of salt poisoning is a change in behaviour, your chihuahua becomes confused due to a large amount of sodium in its body.

Other symptoms may include weakness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and seizures.

It is advisable to keep freshwater closeby in case your chihuahua ingests the ocean water (saltwater); freshwater should be offered to him and he should be kept under a shade and watched carefully for toxicity.

A break should be taken every 15 minutes to reduce the possibility of salt poisoning src.

Can Chihuahuas Swim in Lakes?

Yes, you can take your chihuahuas swimming in a lake, but, there are some things you should take note of and in this section, I will be listing them out.

Taking your chihuahua swimming in lakes can be a mix-bag of bad decisions as much as it could be a great bonding exercise between you and your Chihuahua.

Lakes might seem like a low-risk body of water to take your chihuahua swimming over the beach, but, it would be a mistake to ignore the unseeable threats a lake might pose to your chihuahua.

I have made my research and here are some information and precautions you should take note of:

  • The first step would be to do some research on the lake you intend swimming in.
  • Beware of slow-flowing or stagnant pools which are common during the late summer season, as they could be habouring brain-eating amoeba most often found in hot, stagnant water src.
  • Prevent your chihuahua from licking or drinking the lake water as they stand the risk of blue-green algae poisoning -– Blue-green algae are toxic to dogs when consumed in high volume, and they are commonly found in hot, slow-flowing and stagnant water src.
  • Watch out for water snakes and any water-dwelling animal that can pose a threat to your chihuahua. As a cautionary note, do not leave your dog unattended.
  • Keep an eye out for objects such as broken glasses (bottles), fishing lines and hooks, sharp sticks or metals that could injure your chihuahua.
  • Carry a doggy first aid kit on every of your lake swimming trip in case of an emergency.
  • If you go swimming in salmon or trout contained lakes, maybe around the Pacific Northwest of the US or in British Columbia, Canada, you have to pay better attention to prevent your chihuahua from eating any as they stand the chance of suffering from salmon poisoning.
    This is because salmon, and other salmonid fish (incl. trout, char, and others), in these parts of North America can contain a type of bacteria and a parasitic fluke (a kind of worm) src.
  • Take fresh water with you to keep your chihuahua hydrated and prevent it from ingesting the lake water.
  • Always rinse your dog off with fresh water after a swim session and wipe dry with a clean towel.

Some symptoms to reveal that your dog might be experiencing blue-green algae poisoning include diarrhea or vomiting, drooling, neurologic signs such as weakness, disorientation/confusion, collapse/unconsciousness, seizures and breathing difficulties.

The Risk of Water Intoxication

Water intoxication is a risk associated with swimming, it is also known as water poisoning, hyperhydration, and water toxemia.

Dogs are at risk of having water intoxication as a result of excess water intake during swimming. Due to a chihuahua’s tiny size, they find it harder to expel water from their system, putting them at a higher risk than larger dogs.

According to the American Kennel Club, when a dog experiences water intoxication, the sodium levels outside the cells are depleted, a condition called hyponatremia. In an effort to rebalance itself, the body responds to the low blood sodium by increasing fluid intake inside the cells. Some organs, such as the liver, can accommodate the increased volume of their swelling cells, but others — in particular, the brain, which is encased in bone — cannot.

Some symptoms of water intoxication include lethargy, bloating, drooling, vomiting, loss of coordination (including stumbling, falling, or staggering), restlessness, pale gums, dilated pupils and glazed eyes src.

Water intoxication can be prevented when swimming by doing the following:

  • Take breaks in between swimming session to help remove the excess fluids in its system.
  • Pay attention to your dog’s swimming style, if it’s head is underwater, it stands a greater risk of ingesting excess water and experiencing water intoxication.

Training your Chihuahua to swim

First off, never throw or toss your dog or any dog for that matter into the pool.

It is advisable to begin swimming training when your chihuahua is a puppy, this would help familiarize your chihuahua with water early on. A kiddie pool would also be advised at this very young age.

Chihuahua in pool with lifejacket on
Chihuahua in a pool with a lifejacket on.

It is important to start out your dog’s swimming lessons with a life jacket, this would help your dog to adjust properly in the new experience of being in the water without having to tire itself out too quickly in a panic frenzy.

The life jacket should be worn way before the swimming training begins, this would help ensure your chihuahua gets used to wearing one.

The life jacket can be worn during feeding hours to create a positive association and increase your chihuahua’s willingness to wear it when the time comes. It is advisable to buy a life jacket with a handle and a D-ring to help ensure you can assist and guide your dog when it is in the water src.

With that out of the way, here is a list of steps to take while training your chihuahua to swim:

  • Start from a shallow area of the pool or lake to get its feet wet and do not advance until it is comfortable with being there. This should be done with a leash attached.
  • Attract its interest with treats as you gradually venture further into deeper regions.
  • If your chihuahua has a favourite toy, use that to lure him further, enough to get him paddling and swimming towards you.
  • Be at hand to help your dog in the event of a panic.
  • Keep the training sessions short and fun, rewarding your Chihuahua with treats after every milestone.
  • It is important to also teach your chihuahua how to exit the pool or lake, preferably, how it came in.

Choosing a LifeJacket for your Chihuahua

I earlier stated the need to equip your chihuahua with a lifejacket when you go swimming, now I will go further into listing out what to look out for when picking up a lifejacket for your Chihuahua.

Let’s take a look at what makes a good lifejacket, from materials used to their various features:

  • Material: The lifejacket should be made with durable, nylon, waterproof material such as Ripstop or Neoprene. These materials are able to withstand frequent usage and wears.
  • Buoyancy: This refers largely to the ability of the lifejacket to keep the dog afloat. Foam panels are utilized in this regard, they should be less bucky and well fitted to ensure it is properly distributed evenly ensuring your chihuahua stays afloat and safe, giving you peace of mind while out swimming.
  • Safety: The lifejacket should not only keep your chihuahua afloat, but it should also keep them safe while at it. Features like a front neck float to help keep your chihuahuas head up and out of the water, preventing the risk of water intoxication. Also, an easy release strap and buckle could really help when your Chihuahua gets stuck on a branch or something while swimming in the lake.
  • Ease of Use: The lifejacket should be easy to put on and take off. You would not want to frustrate your chihuahua when you try to put it on or take it off, this could lead to a negative association with the lifejacket.
  • Good Fit: The lifejacket should be a snug fit that would look and feel absolutely right. It should be easily adjustable to ensure your chihuahua isn’t suffocated even as it grows.
  • Colour: The lifejacket should be brightly coloured to aid visibility. Colours such as bright orange, yellow and red would great choices to choose from. Additional reflective strips would also help in dark or poorly lit situations.
  • Handles: It should have at least a sturdy handle to ensure you can easily handle your chihuahua while swimming, as well as lift your chihuahua out of the water. A D-Ring is a plus, it gives you the ability to attach a leash to the life jacket, this would come in handy when training your dog to swim.

Community Input

I reached out to some Chihuahua owners to ask their input about taking their chihuahua swimming on Facebook, through a private group called Small Dog Breed and these are some of what they had to say:

I take my boy to more rivers than lakes, I like him being in fresh moving water not standing water

Callahan Mikell Browning 

My chi is not a fan of water, no swimming…

Terra Luna

Mine did not like water he is a rescue. But I have been working on it and he is starting to get more comfortable with the water and he has a life jacket.

Chris Bair Jones Dorsch

Heck yes!!!! She loves the lake! She has a life jacket!

Angel Gibson 

I take mine to the water, but she never goes in and I don’t make her. I bought her a life jacket and my husband put her in once. It didn’t go over so well, I still don’t think she’s forgiven him 🤣.

Jennifer Matzke-Beaudoin

Pick a very warm day. Let dog follow you into water & watch reaction. Not all dogs can swim, they have to learn. Depending on the result take progress slowly. Doggy life vest good idea if safe to continue. Good luck. It’s fun!

Glenys Miller 
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