Summer time and holidays are great spent with dogs.  Dogs love swimming and it is great exercise for them, but there are some things we need to keep an eye out for.



The main issues that bother dogs who love swimming are ear (otitis externa)  or skin infections (pyoderma, sometimes called a hotspot).  Dogs ear canals don’t drain straight out like ours, so water can get trapped in the ear, or trapped against the skin under the fur. This coupled with warm humid conditions can change the skin environment and allow for an overgrowth of the normal bacteria and fungi that live on skin (the ear canal is essentially a ‘tube’ of skin) causing nasty painful skin or ear infections.

Signs to look for if your dog has an ear infection are:

Head shaking

Pawing at ears

Rubbing ears against furniture or other objects

Twitching ears

Smelly odour coming from ears

Redness of skin in ears

Your dog may be restless and may resist you touching them especially around the head.

Skin infections can be identified by noticing red, inflamed skin, smell, moist areas of skin or fur, itching or a skin discharge


Both skin and ear infections are painful and can be itchy, some dogs cause trauma to themselves trying to get relief.  If you suspect your dog may have an ear infection you should visit your vet as soon as you can.  The vet will take a swab from your dog’s ears and or and check under the microscope to see if your dog is suffering for a bacterial or fungal infection or both.  If affected your dog will be prescribed medication to clear up the infection. The good news is these conditions are usually quite superficial and respond well to topical prescription treatments and do not usually require systemic antibiotics.  In repeat cases,  our vets can also give advice on other preventative strategies, such as regular cleaning of your dog’s ears to help avoid or reduce infections in the future.



Dogs chasing balls in the surf can sometimes ingest a lot of saltwater.  This can cause diarrhea, vomiting and can cause dehydration.  It can also upset your dog’s stomach lining.

Keep an eye on how much your dog is swallowing and make sure you take plenty of fresh water with you so your dog is less likely to try to drink the saltwater if thirsty.    Also, watch out for all those smelly things washed up from the sea…….   These can cause all sorts of upset tummies as well.



Before traveling with your dog research what parasites and insects are found in the area.  This is especially crucial if the area has paralysis ticks.  Paralysis ticks inject neurotoxins into your dog’s bloodstream which can be fatal.  Ask your vet about paralysis tick repellants.

Flies can also be annoying for your dog during summer and can sometimes bite dogs on the ear.  There are dog specific insect repellants which can be used to keep them away.  Please avoid human repellants or sprays as they are not designed for dogs.



Make sure to think about what physical hazards are in the way when you are swimming and playing with your dog.  Are there rocks in the area where you are throwing their toy?  Is the ocean particularly rough making it hard for your dog to swim?  Does your dog look tired?  Dogs will often continue chasing their ball or toy even when fatigued which can then get them into trouble in the waves.  As you would with a child, supervise them at all times, and you decide when they have had enough.



Another reminder that dogs can only cool themselves by panting and a small amount of sweating through paws.  When swimming and playing in the sun always be mindful that your dog doesn’t over do it.  This is especially important for dogs with short noses (such as pugs/bulldogs). Ensure your dog gets plenty of rest, shade and fresh water.  Do not exercise them in the sun.

Remember – if the sand is too hot for your feet.  Its also too hot for your dogs paws!!!

Join Our Newsletter

Expert pet care advice, seasonal health alerts, and special offers.

You have Successfully Subscribed!