Can Papillons Swim? What You Need To Know.

Spread the love

Papillons are known to be tougher than they look. These toy breeds pose stunning athletic abilities that excel in various canine sports. Even with their small size, they are eager to join us in our day to day activities.

So, can papillons swim?
Yes, papillons can swim. This is mostly due to their basic natural instincts, and with proper training or a lack of one, they can either love to be in the water or hate it completely.

Eager to please and ever ready to learn something new, the papillon is an amazing toy dog for active owners who are always ready to engage in some mental and physically stimulating activities.

In this blog post, I will be going into detail on the various factors to take into account when taking your papillon out on a swim, how to teach your pup to swim, what to do to ensure your papillon loves going to swim, amongst other things.

Let’s get started.

Do Papillons Love To Swim?

Papillons are energetic toy dogs that do very well when they get their much needed mental and physical exercises.

Having your papillon jump into the pool after you could result from it’s fearless and protective nature, this doesn’t necessarily indicate their love for swimming.

Papillons can be great swimmers but not all papillons would love swimming. This can be due to various reasons such as having a negative association with large bodies of water due to past exercises.

For a papillon to love swimming it is best to start teaching them how to swim when they are young.

Also, never throw or toss your papillon or any other dog for that matter, into a pool.

This could get them injured as well as make them have a negative associate with large bodies of water due to the shock they experienced.

For puppy swimming classes, it is advised to first start with a smaller body of water such as a bathtub or a kid-sized pool to get them used to being in one.

Can Papillons swim at the Beach?

Taking your papillon to the beach can be a great way to unwind, bond, and get him/her exercised.

Papillons can swim at the beach but with certain precautions in place to prevent accidents such as being swept away by a strong current or getting saltwater poisoning.

Rip currents have known to sweep humans away and could easily sweep a tiny 10-pound papillon out into the sea, subsequently drowning him/her.

Salt makes up 2.5% of seawater and when salt is ingested in large quantity it can result in saltwater poisoning which can lead to death if not medically treated.

Some symptoms of saltwater poisoning include acting confused, seizures, diarrhea, injury to the kidneys, a loss of brain cells, and severe dehydration.

Some precautionary measures to take when at the beach include:

  1. Never letting your Papillon go into the water without being supervised,
  2. Carrying fresh water with you in case your papillon ingests large amounts of salt water while swimming.
    In such a situation, freshwater will help reduce the high level of sodium created by the excess salt ingested.
  3. Staying on the shallow areas while taking frequents swim breaks to prevent your papillon from ingesting the seawater.
  4. Employing the use of a life jacket for safety.

Can Papillons swim in chlorinated Swimming Pools?

Chlorine is added to water to kill germs. It forms a weak acid called hypochlorous acid which subsequently kills bacteria like salmonella and E. coli as well as some viruses.

Papillons can swim in chlorinated swimming pools as long as the chlorine added to the pool is in negligible amounts and safe to swim in, especially by humans.

Swimming in a pool with your papillon can be a fun and relationship building experience for the both of you.

As much as the chlorine added to the pool water isn’t harmful to your papillon, the chlorine tablets on the other hand should be kept away from your dog’s reach because it could be fatal if ingested.

A pet-friendly alternative to use in disinfecting your swimming pool is Bromine.

There are certain precautions to take when you take your papillon out for a swim in a chlorinated pool and they include:

  • Ensure your dog is trained not to lick or drink the pool water to avoid the development of certain complications.
  • Take fresh water with you in case your dog gets thirsty and also to use in rinsing him/her when they are done swimming.
  • Rinse your papillon with fresh water after swimming to take off any chemical stuck on its skin to avoid any form of skin reaction.
  • Finally, ensure you properly dry your papillon with a clean towel after rinsing. You can employ the use of a blow drier if you own one to properly get him/her dry.

Can Papillons swim at the Lake?

If you live close to a lake or often go camping around one, it might be tempting to take a dive into the water as long as the temperature is ideal.

Papillons can swim in lakes but certain precautions have to be taken into account when you take your papillon to the lake.

Swimming in a lake can present a variety of issues to take into consideration that might either end up being a fun-filled day out in the lake or with an emergency visit to the vet.

These precautions include:

  1. The first step is to do some research on the lake you intend to swim in. This is to ensure it’s safe for you and your pup.
  2. Avoid slow-flowing or stagnant pools which are common during the late summer season, as they could be harboring brain-eating amoeba often found in hot, stagnant water src.
  3. Ensure your Papillon is properly trained and also supervised to ensure he/she doesn’t lick or drink the lake water as he/she could stand the risk of blue-green algae poisoning -– Blue-green algae are commonly found in hot, slow-flowing and stagnant water and can toxic to dogs when consumed in high volume src.
  4. For a younger or less experienced swimmer, it is important to employ the use of a lifejacket to ensure he/she doesn’t panic and wear themselves out.
  5. Watch out for water snakes and any water-dwelling animal that can pose a threat to you and your papillon. As a cautionary note, do not leave your dog unsupervised around a lake.
  6. Keep an eye out for objects such as broken glasses (bottles), fishing lines and hooks, sharp sticks, or metals that could harm your papillon.
  7. If you go swimming in salmon or trout contained lakes, maybe around the Pacific Northwest of the US or in British Columbia, Canada, ensure your Papillon doesn’t eat any salmon or trout as he/she risks getting salmon poison.
    Salmon, and other salmonid fish (including trout and char), in these parts of North America, can contain a type of bacteria and a parasitic fluke (a kind of worm) src.
  8. Take fresh water with you to keep your Papillon hydrated and prevent him/her from drinking the lake water when tasty.
  9. Always rinse your dog off with fresh water after a swim session and wipe dry with a clean towel especially the ears.
  10. Carry a doggy first aid kit and have your vet contact as well on every lake swimming trip in case of an emergency.

Some symptoms to reveal that your papillon 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.

If you see any of these symptoms after a few hours of swimming in the lake, contact your vet immediately.

Risks Involved in taking your Papillon swimming?

As indicated in the various sections above, there are certain risks involved when you take your papillon out for a swim.

This can range from being swept away by a rip-currents at the beach, saltwater poisoning from ingesting excess seawater to blue-green algae, and salmon poisoning in lakes.

Other risks involved include water intoxication and leptospirosis.

In this section, i will be explaining what these are and how to avoid them.

Water Intoxication

Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning, hyperhydration, and water toxemia, is caused by excess intake of water by your dog during swimming.

As a result of a papillon’s tiny size, it would be difficult to remove this excess 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.

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

Water intoxication can be prevented by taking breaks in between swimming sessions to let your papillon rest.

Pay attention to his/her swimming style; if his/her head ever goes underwater, there are greater chances of your papillon ingesting excess water which can lead to water intoxication.


Leptospirosis is a disease carried by rats, wildlife and domestic livestock, with most cases seen in late summer and fall and often after heavy rainfalls.

The organism that causes leptospirosis is called spirochete bacteria and can be found throughout the world. It is known to exist in stagnant pools of water, mud, and dampness.

Dogs have been known to contract leptospirosis by swimming or drinking stagnant pools infested with the bacteria.

Leptospirosis doesn’t necessarily make your dog visibly ill, but when it does some signs of illness could include lethargy, poor appetite, fever, vomiting, increased thirst, or urine production.

It takes 4-12 days before symptoms become visible.

Unvaccinated dogs stand a higher chance of getting ill from being infected with Leptospirosis, therefore it is important to vaccinate your papillon to help prevent this.

A major step to prevent this is to keep your papillon away from a stagnant, non-flowing pool of water. Swimming pools are safe as long as they are treated with chlorine or bromine.

Leptospirosis can also be transmitted through the urine of rats, raccoons, feral cats, and other animals, so keep your house, papillon’s crate or playpen clean to reduce the chances of rat infestations.

Leptospirosis is also a zoonotic disease, meaning humans can contract it as well. This can happen when your dog licks your face or when you come in contact with their urine.

How to teach your Papillon to Swim

Papillons are very intelligent and very willing to learn something new, such as swimming and if properly taught, can be great swimmers.

It is advisable to start at an early puppy age when training a dog to swim, using a bathtub, or a kid’s pool just to get them used to being in the water.

Can papillons swim?
Papillon swimming in a bathtub

When introducing your papillon to a larger body of water, it is important to start out with a lifejacket, it would help your papillon 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 before the swimming training begins to ensure your papillon gets used to wearing one.

You can put it on him/her during feed hours to help create a positive association with the life jacket.

With that being said, here are some steps to take while training your papillon to swim:

  1. Start from the shallow area of the pool or lake to get his/her feet wet and do not advance until you are sure he/she is comfortable with being in the water. This should be done with a leash attached to the life jacket.
  2. Perk your papillon’s interest with treats or favorite toys as you gradually move further into the deeper areas where his/her feet don’t touch the ground.
  3. Be at hand to help your dog in the event of a panic.
  4. Keep the training sessions short and reward your papillon with praises and treats after every milestone.
  5. It is important to also teach your papillon how to exit the pool or lake, preferably, how it came in.

Picking a life jacket for your Papillon

Lifejackets are essential in ensuring your papillon stays safe while out on a swim. This safety can also give provide a sense of calm and assurance for you as well.

Various factors go into deciding which lifejacket one should get for your dog and in this section, I will be sharing some factors to consider when picking a lifejacket for your Papillon.

These factors are:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 dog stays afloat and safe.
  3. Safety: The lifejacket should not only keep your dog afloat, but it should also keep them safe as well. Features like a front neck float to help keep your Papillon’s head up and out of the water, preventing the risk of water intoxication. Also, an easy release strap and buckle could really help if your Papillon gets stuck on a branch or something while swimming in the lake.
  4. Ease of Use: The lifejacket should be easy to put on and take off. This is a convenience for both you and your Papillon.
  5. Good Fit: The lifejacket should be a snug fit that would look and feel absolutely right. It should be easily adjustable and shouldn’t constrict your papillon.
  6. Color: The lifejacket should be brightly colored to aid visibility. Colors 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.
  7. Handles: It should have at least a sturdy handle to ensure you can easily handle your dog while swimming, as well as lift your dog out of the water.
    A D-Ring is a plus as it gives you the ability to attach a leash to the life jacket, this would come in handy when training your dog to swim.


Swimming can be a great form of exercise to keep your dog fit, it also strengthens the bond between you and your pup, fortunately, Papillons can be great swimmers when taught how to swim.

There are various risks at play when taking your papillon swimming, therefore, it is important to take all the necessary precautions to ensure your Papillon is safe when they go swimming.

error: Content is protected !!
Scroll to Top