Is Chlorine Water Bad for Dogs?

Is Chlorine Water Bad for Dogs

If you have an adventurous dog who likes having a dip in your pool during hot weather, or perhaps lapping at the pool water, you will have concerns, and rightly so. That concern will be over how safe it is for dogs to drink chlorine water, and whether they will get sick.

In this guide I will explain what happens if a dog drinks chlorine water, and how bad it could be.

Chlorine water is bad for dogs if the chlorine levels are highly concentrated rather than highly diluted. The CDC say chlorinated water is safe for dogs to drink if diluted at 4 milligrams per liter. Pool water tends to be 1 to 3 milligrams per so should be safe.

In summary whether chlorinated water is harmful to dogs depends on how concentrated the chemical is in the water. A dog can get sick from drinking chlorine water, but it would need be water with high amounts of chlorine, more than is typically used in swimming pools.

But if the water contains safe chlorine levels, it won’t pose any danger, but you should discourage your dog from drinking it and provide an alternative and clean water source.

Below I will explain the health risks and whether pool water can make your dog sick, as it’s not just chlorine levels you need to worry about. I’ll also cover a few safety tips to protect your dog from the toxic effects of concentrated chlorine water.

Can dogs drink chlorine water?

As I’ve now established, dogs can drink chlorine water in moderation, providing the chlorine levels fall are not at 4 milligrams or more dilution.

Do I recommend dogs drink chlorine water? No, of course not.

There are plenty of safe alternatives for dogs to drink, the number one choice being clean water, but there are other things dogs can drink safely too.

What happens if a dog drinks chlorine water?

Like any other proud dog parent, your pet’s happiness means everything to you.

You won’t mind giving them a taste of life comforts, including spending time in your outdoor pool during the hot months. But before allowing your dog to jump in the pool with you, you need to know whether chlorinated water affects a dog’s health in any way.

dog drinks chlorine water
Dogs will drink chlorine water when swimming in pools (https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-swim-water-wet-dog-summer-fun-2633224/)

Let’s start with the facts.

Swimming pools can’t do without chlorine. Without it, all sorts of illness-causing bacteria and micro-organisms would survive in the water. Chlorine does a great job in keeping pool water completely safe for everyone who gets inside.

Truth is that chlorine water is generally safe for dogs if it’s not in concentrated form. In other words, swimming in pool water containing safe levels of chlorine won’t affect your furry friend’s health.

Which brings me neatly onto the next point…

Can pool water make my dog sick?

Yes, pool water can make your dog sick if it’s been untreated and been left without safe levels of chlorine in it. If dogs start drinking stagnant water from a pool, this will be more problematic and could lead to illness.

The excellent Wag Walking website say this:

“Ponds and stagnant pools of water can contain contamination from animal or human waste, which contains bacteria including Salmonella, campylobacter and Leptospira and can cause your dog to vomit after drinking.”

Can dogs get sick from drinking chlorine water?

Dogs will get sick if they drink too much, just like anything. But overall, in small quantities your dog should not get sick.

This also applies to chlorinated tap water.

Tap water treated with safe amounts of chlorine won’t hurt your canine friend. Or think of it this way. If you can drink it without experiencing any health problems, then it won’t harm your dog.

And if your dog opts to quench their thirst in the pool by gulping down more than a mouthful of the diluted chlorine water, the worst that can happen is a mild upset stomach.

Still, there’s nothing good about tummy discomfort. That’s why you should ensure your dog doesn’t make drinking pool water the norm.

Here’s a link to that research by the CDC which shows the recommended amount of chlorine for pools is 1 milligram per liter of water (1mg/L). So, by sticking to your chlorine manufacturer’s instructions, your pool water won’t be a threat to your dog’s health.

When dog chlorine poisoning can occur

Water loaded with chlorine is harmful for dogs and can poison them. If you don’t use the right amount of chlorine to treat your pool, your canine friend’s health will suffer.

Concentrated chlorine water is toxic when swallowed in both small and high amounts. It can lead to dog chlorine poisoning, and a dog may die if they don’t receive treatment.

Also, chlorinated water that isn’t diluted to safe levels can release mild amounts of chlorine gas. Your dog’s breathing will be affected if they swim in this water.

If your dog suffers chlorine poisoning, they’ll have symptoms such as:

  • Severe stomach upset.
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting.
  • Extreme drooling.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Serious throat pain.
  • Breathing difficulties.

It can be heartbreaking watching your dog suffer chlorine poisoning. But it’s avoidable.

You simply need to do two things: One, do not overuse chlorine in your pool. And two, keep your dog away from the pool whenever you add chlorine (to give the chemical time to dissolve).

Is chlorine pool water bad for a dog’s skin?

Chlorinated water, even in its diluted form, can affect your dog’s skin.

When chlorine mixes with pool water, an acid forms called hypochlorous acid. This is what breaks downs all the bad bacteria in the pool to make the water germ-free.

Hypochlorous acid is a natural skin irritant. When your dog spends a lot of time in the pool, they’ll experience skin irritation and itchiness in the eyes (and ears) because of this acid. The irritation will progress to painful rashes and burns if the chlorine is beyond safe levels.

Moreover, chlorine-treated water has a drying effect on your dog’s coat. It will strip away all the good natural oils from your furry friend’s body, leaving them with dry, flaky fur.

Besides hypochlorous acid, another thing forms in the pool — chloramines. Ever wondered why we’re always asked to shower before swimming? It’s got to do with chloramines.

These nasty irritants form when body waste (sweat, makeup, deodorant, and so forth) reacts with chlorinated water. When your dog stays in the pool for a while, any present chloramines will attach to their skin, and the itching effect will kick in.

Chlorine-treated water is also bad for your canine friend if they’re already dealing with pre-existing skin condition like dermatitis or eczema. The itchiness and rashes on their skin because of the skin condition will worsen when they frequently swim in chlorinated water.

Something else.

If your dog is a regular swimmer who spend lots of time in the pool, they’re likely to develop infections when chlorinated pool water gets in their ears (the same can happen with salt water). Water can settle in your dog’s ear, washing off a bit of the earwax that traps infection-causing microorganisms.

Earwax also moisturizes your canine friend’s ear canal. Chlorine water will remove much of the wax, and your dog will experience itchiness inside the ears.

Handy Hint: If your dog is scratching his ears, it could instead be ear mites.

How to protect your dog from the effects of chlorinated water

You might love it when your dog joins you in the pool. If your water-loving dog has no pre-existing skin condition, don’t deny them a chance to cool off in the pool.

But you must take precautions to ensure the fun family pool session doesn’t end up with a vet visit. Here are some steps you can take to keep your furry friend safe:

  • Consult your vet for advice on a dog-friendly ear drying solution to use on your dog when they finish swimming. You won’t have to worry about chlorine-treated pool water getting trapped in your dog’s ear and causing horrible infections.
  • Be quick to discourage your dog from drinking the pool water. Your furry friend probably sees the pool as a giant bowl of refreshing drinking water.
  • Ensure your dog has a fresh bowl of water where they can see it.
  • Limit how much time your dog spends in chlorinated water. Prolonged chlorine exposure is will over time ruin their coat’s overall look.
  • Monitor signs of discomfort after the pool session and talk to your vet if you have any health concern.
  • Make sure you give your dog a thorough rinse from head to toe (and dry them properly) when they get out of the pool. Letting all that chlorine water dry on their skin will only leave your dog with skin irritation that persists hours after leaving the pool.
  • Also, if you fail to wash them every time they’re out of the pool, the chlorine residue will build up on their coat, causing long-term quality damage.
  • Talk to your vet about a good dog-friendly moisturizing product to use on your dog’s body after the refreshing rinse.
  • Always treat your pool with the required amount of chlorine. Not more. Not less.
  • Also understand that dogs can probably only hold their breath for up to 10 seconds before they struggle, so keep safe.

Related questions

Now I’ve explained that chlorine water is bad for dogs if it’s too concentrated, but generally should be ok if prepared correctly, here are some other aspects which you should be aware of.

What happens if a dog drinks chlorine water?

If the chlorine water isn’t loaded with chlorine, the dog won’t experience any serious health effects. The worst that can happen is mild stomach discomfort. But if they drink concentrated chlorine water, they’ll have life-threatening symptoms.

Is chlorine exposure harmful to dogs?

Yes, that’s correct. The effects of chlorine exposure range from mild to severe, depending on the amount of chlorine involved and the length of exposure.

Can pool water make my dog sick?

It depends on how concentrated the water is with the water-treatment chemicals. If there isn’t a safe balance of the chemicals, the pool water will make your dog unwell.

Conclusion

When it’s pool time, dogs like to swim. Some might sneak in a few sips of the water when no one’s looking. If this has happened with your dog, don’t worry too much about the chlorine water if the pool levels are correct.

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Swimming dog photo from https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-animal-puppy-siberian-huskies-168815/

Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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