Dog Swimming vs. Running

Dog swimming vs. running

We love running with our dogs, but another great way for dogs to exercise and have fun is swimming!

Some dogs LOVE to swim (looking at you, Labs!) but some dogs would rather not get their feet wet.

If your dog doesn’t love swimming, that’s OK, don’t force it.

Even if they don’t enjoy actual swimming, a lot of dogs still like to wade or stand in a kiddie pool or shallow stream on a hot day.

In this article, we’re sharing some reasons why swimming is great exercise and healthy for most dogs!

Does swimming tire out dogs more than running?

Swimming and running are both great exercise for dogs, just as both are great exercise for people.

Swimming will not necessarily tire out a dog more than running, but it might, depending on the situation.

For example, swimming can be a great mental and physical workout for your dog. This can leave the dog more relaxed and decompressed afterwards – in other words, more tired and calm!

You can make swimming a mental workout for your dog simply by bringing him to a new place to swim such as a lake, beach or stream that you only visit on occasion. The new environment will be exciting for your dog, leaving him mentally tired.

Many dogs also love to play fetch in the water or to swim and chase other dogs. These activities will also help tire them out, even more than if you were to take your dog for a run on a leash.

How long should a dog swim for exercise?

It’s not like your dog is going to be swimming laps in a pool. Instead, he’ll be swimming, jumping through the water, splashing, digging, playing fetch and maybe chasing other dogs.

You know your dog best, but most likely your dog will only need 30 or 60 minutes of this type of exercise before he is tired.

If you’re going to be at the beach all day with your dog, you’ll probably want to make sure he takes some breaks in the shade.

Some dogs don’t have an “off switch” when they’re excited, so make sure to be aware of your dog’s body language. Leash him up for a break if he’s getting mentally or physically worn out.

Is it OK for dogs to swim every day?

Yes, absolutely dogs can swim every day if that is possible with your schedule. We have a Lab who would absolutely LOVE to swim every day if he could!

Your dog’s coat may need to be shampooed or brushed more often, depending on his coat type and where he is swimming. (Some ponds are really muddy, for example.) A professional groomer can give you the best advice on how to maintain your dog’s specific coat type.

Is too much swimming bad for dogs?

Yes, dogs can overdo it with swimming. For example, playing fetch over and over and over can be hard on a dog’s joints, even in the water.

Some dogs don’t have an “off switch” when they’re overly excited and will keep swimming and playing fetch in the water until exhaustion. This could put the dog in danger of drowning. Dogs that are obsessed with fetching a toy should be managed closely. My dog Ace was one of these dogs!

It’s up to you to be aware of your dog and how he’s doing. You know him best.

Dogs that swim frequently may also need to be groomed more often (or less often!) depending on their coat type and where they are swimming.

Your dog could also have a higher risk of ear infections if he does a lot of swimming. This is because water can get into their ears. Some dogs are more prone to ear infections than others.

Swimming is good exercise for aging dogs

Swimming puts less stress and strain on a senior dog’s joints compared to running. Although, you will still need to be careful not to overdo it with a senior dog. You know your dog best.

My senior Lab mix Ace loved to retrieve his bumper at the dog beach! I kept a long rope on him when he swam in the ocean as a senior dog so I could always help reel him in, if needed. I never needed to, but just wanted to keep my old guy safe.

Health benefits of swimming for dogs

Here are some of the health benefits dogs can get from regular swimming for exercise:

  • Faster recovery from surgery, sprain or strain
  • Reduced pain
  • Release of stress
  • Weight reduction & management
  • Improved body condition & physical performance
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Build Muscles
  • Strengthen the heart and lungs
  • Improve metabolism
  • Help for better circulation
  • A decrease In inflammation
  • Joint friendly
  • Mental stimulation

Is it good for dogs to swim in pools?

As long as you don’t mind your dog swimming in your pool, it is OK!

You don’t want to encourage your dog to drink the chlorinated water, although a little bit will not hurt him.

It’s also a good idea to quickly rinse his coat with water when he’s done swimming in the pool, in order to rinse the chlorine from his coat.

Obviously, you’ll want to supervise your dog while swimming in a pool and prevent your dog from accessing the pool when you are not home.

I also recommend you train your dog that he can get in the pool with permission (on command) and not whenever he wants. But, it’s up to you to set your own rules.

Do you swim with your dog or take him swimming?

Let us know in the comments!

Find a Race
Contact Me

Lindsay@RunThatMutt.com