Is it ok for Labs to Swim in Cold Water?

Labradors are a very popular breed of dog and are known for being friendly, intelligent, and great with children. They are also a water-loving breed, which means they love to swim! But is it ok for labradors to swim in cold water? The answer is yes- as long as you take some precautions and the water isn’t too cold!

But how cold is too cold? Well, generally speaking, temperatures above 45°F are safe for dogs to swim in. So is it ok for Labs to swing in cold water? Yes! As long as the temperature of the water is above 45°F.

Obviously, you wouldn’t want your Lab to go swimming in ice-cold water for more extended periods!

Water Temperature and Dogs

The colder the water, the faster your dog will cool down, so the shorter his time in the water should be. Hypothermia is a real risk if your dog spends more than a few minutes at a time in the waters of winter!

A good rule-of-thumb to go by is that any water temperature lower than 45°F isn’t suitable for dogs to swim in. Of course, other factors determine how well your dog can handle swimming in cold water too…

Short-haired dogs and small breeds are more sensitive to the cold than larger dogs or dogs with double coats. The two coats grow independently of one another.

Undercoat

The purpose of an undercoat is to keep your Lab cool in the summer and warm in the winter! The undercoat has a softer, downy texture. The undercoat of Labradors also contains natural oil secretions, which repels water and helps keep the skin dry. After all, labs were bred as fishermen’s helpers! That’s why your pup can handle the cold water, but never less – make sure to go easy on swimming in cold water! 

Topcoat

The topcoat is thick and robust and can either be straight or wavy. The topcoat repels water, which is excellent for keeping your dog dry!

read.. does my lab need a coat?

“The Labrador Retriever has a short, dense, water-repellent double coat. The outer coat lies close to the body and is straight, although a slight wave down the back is permissible. The coat texture is firm and resilient, neither coarse nor silky. Undercoat is soft and dense.”

Source: https://www.ukcdogs.com/labrador-retriever

Dogs With Double Coats

Some examples of double-coated dogs are:

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • German Shepherd Dogs
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Newfoundlands
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Huskies
  • Shiba Inu
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Shih Tzus

Signs of Hypothermia and Treatment

If you suspect your dog is suffering from hypothermia, call your veterinarian immediately. Treatment for hypothermia usually involves bringing the dog’s body temperature back to normal with a warm bath or a heating pad.

A dog’s average body temperature is between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Dogs with mild hypothermia have a body temperature of 90 – 99 °F, those with moderate hypothermia are between 82 and 90 °F, and those with severe hypothermia have a body temperature below 82 °F.

Signs of hypothermia in dogs are: 

  • Shivering
  • Weakness
  • Lack of Coordination
  • Depression
  • Panting
  • Stiff Muscles
  • Glazed eyes

Know Your Dog’s Limitations

Every dog is different. Your labrador might get carried away and exceed his limitations. You must know how long your dog can swim in cold water before suffering from hypothermia. If he shows signs of fatigue, it is time to get them out of the water!

How To Care for Your Labrador After a Cold Swim

You need to dry your Lab and get him into a warm environment after swimming in cold water. Give your dog some water – And don’t forget to give him a treat! A dog needs exercise and playtime just as much as humans do!

Towels

Towels are great for removing excess water from your dog. A doggy towel is ideal, but if you don’t have one, just clean towels will do!

Blanket

If your furry friend is still cold, wrap him up in a blanket to help him retain heat.

Fluids

You need to ensure that your dog is drinking enough water. Warm water would also be acceptable.

Heating Pads or Baths

If your pup is still cold, you could use a heating pad (or bottles filled with warm water) or even give him a quick bath to help warm him up. Make sure the water is not hot, though!

Conclusion

Labradors are a water-loving breed of dog that enjoys swimming. While it is safe for them to swim in cold water temperatures above 45°F, you need to take some precautions and ensure they don’t overdo it. Labs have double coats, plus they are excellent swimmers that can handle cold water quickly. They can take the cold much better than dogs with only one coat – But still, do not let them stay in the water for too long!

Swimming in cold water can cause hypothermia in dogs, so be aware of your dog’s limitations and how long they can safely swim. After swimming in cold water, make sure to dry them off and give them plenty of fluids. If they’re still cold, you can use a heating pad or give them a quick bath to warm them up.

FAQ

Q: Is it safe for labradors to swim in cold water?

A: Yes, as long as the water temperature is above 45°F.

Q: How long can a dog stay in cold water before suffering from hypothermia?

A: This depends on the dog’s size and how well he tolerates the cold. Generally speaking, the colder the water, the less time a dog can stay in it. Labradors are great swimmers and have double coats that protect them from the cold, but still – They shouldn’t remain in freezing water for too long!

Q: What are the signs of hypothermia in dogs?

A: Shivering, weakness, lack of coordination, depression, panting, stiff muscles, and glazed eyes.

Q: How do you treat hypothermia in dogs?

A: Usually warm baths or heating pads. If your dog is still cold after warming him up with a bath or heating pad, make sure to give him plenty of fluids!

Q: What should I do if my labrador is shivering?

A: Wrap him in blankets, use heating pads (or bottles filled with warm water) or give him a quick bath to help warm him up.

Q: How do I dry my labrador after swimming in cold water?

A: Make sure they don’t get a chill by drying them off and keeping them warm. If your dog continues to shiver after being dried off, use heating pads or give him a quick bath to help warm him up.

Q: My Lab is shivering after swimming in cold water! What should I do?

A: Wrap him up in blankets, use heating pads (or bottles filled with warm water) or give him a quick bath to help warm him up.

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