can all dogs swim

The answer may surprise you, read our comprehensive guide with tips for pool safety for pets.

Safety of children and pets around swimming pools is the number one responsibility of all pool owners. How many people mistook the ability of a dog to paddle for ‘swimming’ with dire consequences? Our comprehensive guide to pool safety for pets assists you in taking that responsibility seriously.

In this comprehensive guide to pet safety we’ll be looking at:

  1. Can all dogs naturally swim?
  2. Evaluation of pool safety solutions for pets and children
  3. Aquaflex reinforced solid PVC pool cover
  4. How to order your pet and child safety pool cover
  5. Finance solutions
  6. Ten tips on pet pool safety
  7. Ten tips for identifying risk factors in different breeds

The BIG question: Can all dogs naturally swim?


Have you been mistaking ‘paddling’ for the ability to ‘swim’? If so, you’re not the only one. Treading water, or staying afloat however is not ‘swimming’ but merely a temporary delay in the hope of being rescued. Many people are surprised that all dogs can’t naturally swim. When we think about this question it’s almost natural to call up a number of different pictures in our minds that say: “of course dogs can swim”. We forget that we don’t know the story behind those pictures, how that dog became a ‘natural’ swimmer, or how it was safely introduced to water as a puppy.

In reality, should a dog end up in water performing a paddling motion is almost instinctive. This is, sadly for many dogs, also the extent of their ability to swim. Not every paddle motion is enough to stay afloat. Even if a dog does manage to stay afloat for some time, it may not know how to reach the steps and safely exit the pool. Adding to this inability to rescue itself is lower water temperature which causes additional strain and may lead to lower cognitive functions. Shallow pool water levels or steps that are too high can also make it impossible for a pet to pull itself out the water.

If you know your dog well enough to know it doesn’t like water, that’s not enough to say it will never fall into the pool by accident. You never know if the excitement of chasing the neighbours’ stray rabbit overcomes its fear of the water.

Monitor your dog’s swimming proficiency. If you happen to own a dog that loves being in the water, regularly monitor his swimming proficiency. Bear in mind that its proficiency might diminish due to age or weakening eye sight. Even a dog which is otherwise a good swimmer may panic if it slips and fall into water in the dark of night, if it’s extremely cold or injured.

Dogs with large heavy chests in relation to their hindquarters are high risk breeds. Splashing in the pool under supervision and with a life jacket may be fun, but that’s about the extent of these breeds ability to ‘swim’. The most extreme example of these breeds, the Bulldog, is so poorly built for water survival that breeders and rescue groups often require a home check to ensure that a pool area is safely fenced off. Bulldogs are known to sink like rocks. Dachshunds and Boxers are generally not able to stay afloat. While brachy breeds like the Pug tend to tire too easily due to the abnormal structure of their respiratory organs. Know your breed, read more on the top 10 dog breeds that may struggle to swim and why.

Dogs with seizure disorders are never safe around pools if unsupervised. If your pet suffers from head trauma, arthritis, or seizures, regard it as a warning signals to take special precaution around swimming pools. The fact is that not all dogs are natural swimmers. There are an alarming number of pets drowning in swimming pools every year! We do not have statistics for pet drownings in South Africa, but Google provides plenty of information on the topic that reflects the high numbers of pet drownings.

Evaluation of pool safety solutions for pets and children

The number one rule: adult supervision.

The rule to never allow children or pets around a swimming pool without adult supervision is the ideal solution for safety around the swimming pool. It might be ideal, but it’s not always realistic to monitor your pets at all times.

It’s the very nature of small children and pets to be curious, to explore the world and discover new things. The very purpose of a swimming pool is for the enjoyment of family and friends. A pool is associated with fun, playfulness and refreshing your body during mid-summer heat.

The very nature of children and pets and the purpose of a swimming pool almost work like magnets pulling towards one another. This emphasizes the importance of each pool owner to consciously evaluate their pool for safety and taking the necessary precautions timeously. Seeing that we are talking about pets and children who are still learning the meaning of warnings and being water-conscious, it’s almost inevitable that you will not always be able to follow the number one rule.

Adult supervision for pets and children around water is the number one rule. The ideal is to extend your level of supervision as a pool owner to even include those times that you are working, away from home, asleep, or otherwise occupied.

Do not take a chance and protect your pets from drowning!

There are various methods being used to secure a pool, however, some of these methods are not always ideal or completely secure.


Building a fence around a pool as a measure to safeguard children and pets around the swimming pool has been done for many years. However, as the saying goes ‘a chain is just as strong as its weakest link’ and in this case the gate that gives access to the pool, is the weakest point.

When it comes to securing the well-being of children and pets around the pool, the gate in a fenced-off area is by far the highest risk. It only takes one inattentive moment for a gardener, older child, or even a parent to leave the gate open or not properly closed. Most people are aware and vigilant when it comes to protecting their children and ensure the gate is closed, but not everyone may be aware that the pool holds risks for pets too. Failing to secure the gate immediately renders the purpose of a fence useless.

Tips on what to keep in mind if you have a fenced-off pool:

  • Be diligent and clear about responsible operation and use of the gate.
  • Monitor your dog’s digging around or underneath the fence as not to create new access points to the pool area.
  • Inspect the fence, gate and locking mechanism regularly and maintain well.
  • Keep garden furniture away from the fence to avoid it being used to climb or jump over the fence.
  • A seemingly innocent garden tool like a rake may be used by a young child to reach and open a safety mechanism on a gate. Store garden tools away after use and out of reach of young children.


A pool net is often used to secure the pool, however it is designed as an effective and affordable obstruction to keep children out of the pool, it is not designed nor ideal for pets. Netting may cause a pet to get entangled or even worse, they may get stuck and unable to free itself. Dogs may chew the netting and cause holes. Pool nets are known to often be difficult to handle and takes a lot of effort to cover the pool, especially odd shaped and kidney pools. If it is too much trouble to put the net on or take it off, people may tend to be reluctant to either place it back on after use, or just keep it on and not use the pool.


For most modern homes with landscaped gardens, building a visible fence around the swimming pool may reduce aesthetic appeal and is no longer popular. Seeking alternative solutions that match or enhance the architecture of home designs might very well have been the driving force behind the expansion in variety of pool cover designs. In addition, there has been an ongoing drought in South Africa which has led to a great increase in demand for water-wise covers. It resulted in an expansion in the variety of pool covers available on the market, ranging from shade covers to thermal blankets in efforts to stop evaporation and save water. Low water levels may form an additional risk for pets to be unable to get out of the pool.

Pool covers offers a list of benefits and that’s to be expected. The number one benefit however should always be its ability to keep children and pets out of the water.

When it comes to protecting pets and children around your swimming pool it is important to keep in mind that not all pool covers are designed for safety. Thermal covers are designed to help maintain water temperature and reduce evaporation, and not to secure your child or pet around your pool. Loose covers that float on top of the water should never be considered as a safety cover, in fact, they can allow a dog to get into the pool and trapped under the cover which poses an increased risk of drowning. With the huge variety of covers available it’s better to regard no pool cover safe unless it specifically states that its design is child and pet safe.

Tips on characteristics of a child and pet safe pool cover:

  • The cover does not trap or entangle.
  • The cover does not allow access to the water.
  • The cover firmly locks in place with child-proof mechanisms.
  • The cover is made of strong durable material and can hold weight.
  • The cover allows for rain water to drain so water can not accumulate on top.

Aquaflex reinforced solid PVC pool covers.

If you are a pool owner looking for a way to shield children and pets from drowning in your swimming pool, our reinforced solid PVC pool cover holds the answer. This pool cover comes with many added benefit but the one outstanding characteristic is that it is specifically designed with child and pet safety in mind.

Our reinforced solid PVC pool cover closes off access to the water by pets and young children. The high quality material used in producing this cover makes it durable and if properly fitted and maintained will continue to do so for many years to come.

The pool cover is constructed using top grade PVC and is reinforced with aluminium poles. The concept behind this cover is that it does not rest on the water, but is rather stretched over the swimming pool, above the water surface area. It is placed in position and secured on the same level as the outside edge of the swimming pool.

The calculated position of the aluminium poles add stability to the cover and are capable of carrying 100 kg weight. The heavy duty 550 gms PVC cover is UV resistant and tough. The cover is secured in place by tension ratchets that are tamper proof for small children. The tension ratchets enable an adult to apply tension to, or release the cover with relative ease.

Aquaflex reinforced solid PVC pool cover:

  • Designed with child and pet pool safety in mind.
  • Secured cover can carry  100 kilogram weight.
  • Helps retain water levels by reducing evaporation by up to 95%
  • Keeps the water clear from leaves, twigs and most wind borne debris.
  • Lowers maintenance cost and cuts down on chemical use.
  • Drain hole eyelids prevent water to accumulate on top of the cover.
  • Helps water retain heat.
  • Child-proof tension ratchets.
  • Available in different colours.
  • UV protected, durable life span.
  • Easy to open and close.

How to order your pet and child safe pool cover.

We calculate, design, and manufacture each pool cover to meet the safety requirements and weight capacity for each individual swimming pool.

Step one:

The easiest is to simply fill in the request for a quotation on our website.

You can also send us an email to with the following information:

  • Your contact details: name, number and location.
  • The length and width dimensions of your swimming pool.If possible, it would be useful if you could send us a photograph of your pool.

Step two:

We will contact you if we have any questions, prepare a quotation, and send the quotation to you.
You can review and consider our quotation, and ask us to clarify any additional information.

Step three:

Upon acceptance of the quotation a 50% deposit is payable. We will then arrange a date and time with you for a pre-site inspection which we will use to confirm measurements and assess possible landscape, paving or other challenges. During our pre-site visit we will also bring colour samples for you to choose from.

Please note that pre-site inspection is included in the quotation for properties located in and around Cape Town. We do deliveries throughout South Africa, do contact us for more information if you are based in other provinces. In considering our quote, it may be useful to know that you can also apply for finance solutions. Lead time from start of manufacturing to installation is between 10 to 15 work days.

Finance solutions

The first thing that people ask when they find out about our awesome range of safety pool cover products is: “how much does it cost?”.

For some people affordability may be a concern. Well, we’ve got some great news for you. We’ve teamed up with Greenfin Finance solutions to provide a perfect financial solution.

Who else will give you 24 to 48 months to pay for your pool cover, while providing a 2-year warranty?

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Not only will the cover protect your pet, but it will save you money on reducing chemical and cleaning costs, not to mention reducing water use.

Don’t take chances. Secure your pool. Be sure your pets are safe. After all, you can’t put a price on your pet.

How does the finance solution work?
For more information click here.

10 Tips on pet pool safety and avoiding hazards.

Here are 10 points to keep in mind as a pool owner and pet lover. We recommend you seek advice from your local vet practitioner or dog trainer on the feasibility of teaching your dog to swim.

  1. Many adults are still carrying the scars caused by accidents due to slippery pool decks in their younger years. Not only is safety in the pool important, but the choice of the surface area around the pool can greatly affect or prevent accidents from happening. Choose non-slippery surfaces. Remember falls happen not only because of running. Slipping can happen in one slow step motion too.
  2. Choose deck material that are weak conductors of energy and does not become extremely hot. Most adults wear shoes and are often unaware of just how hot a surface area may become after baking in the sun all day. Dogs don’t wear shoes, so choose wisely.
  3. Provide a well-ventilated and shaded space for your pets around the pool. Obviously your dog would love to participate in the fun, but be sure there is a comfortable spot for him to cool down too.
  4. Look at the construction of your pool from a pet’s point of view. Hidden underwater features like built-in cement seating are not something that your dog might be able to identify. This may increase the risk of injury if the dog jumps into the pool and unexpectedly meet an obstacle.
  5. Consider the width and depth of steps to safely exit the pool for your pets. Smaller dogs usually struggle as they are unable to jump up if the stairs are too high. Even with manageable steps, dogs do not intuitively know its location and need to be taught where to find the steps should they find themselves in the pool.
  6. Switch off and remove vacuum cleaning equipment from the pool while your pet is swimming. Some dogs enjoy retrieving toys from the depth of the swimming pool and may get caught, or frightened. It is potentially dangerous equipment and should not be played with.
  7. New regulations determine the design and location of suction drains in swimming pools as unsafe drains have caused children to drown. Be aware of your swimming pool drains’ location and design to ensure it complies with the law.
  8. Place toys safely away after use. This includes the inflatable pool chair too! Remove all toys in and around the pool and place it in a designated storage area. Some dogs might want to retrieve or play with a toy left in the water and in your absence jumps in without the awareness that it may need help to safely exit the pool.
  9. Hot tubs are not for pets. Dogs may not be able to handle the heat and die. Keep hot tub lid securely closed when not in use.
  10. As a pet owner take basic emergency and CPR training. Regularly go for a refreshment course. That investment might just safe a life one day.

General safety tips around the pool:

  • Prevent tripping over items at night or during low visibility by putting toys, inflatables and balls away after use.
  • Don’t use glassware, or bottles in or around the pool.
  • When arranging adult supervision for pets and children don’t assume the assigned adult can swim, rather ask and be sure.
  • If you’re having a pool party with new or unfamiliar children, request information about medical conditions like epilepsy, blindness or heart conditions.
  • Keep emergency contact numbers in an obvious and visible place, preferably near a telephone or as speed dial numbers on your cell phone.

10 Tips for identifying risk factors in different breeds.

We recommend you consult your local veterinary clinic or pet health practitioner for the specific challenges relating to water and swimming pools for your pet. Here is a summary of ten different breeds and the challenges they face when finding themselves submerged in water.

Even with large dogs like the Greyhound, their low body fat percentage work against them being strong swimmers as they are not very buoyant and chill easily. They may be able to paddle for a while but being sprinters and not marathon runners, they will tire easily. Whatever the size or breed of your pet, it’s important to be informed and maintain safety around swimming pools.

Basset hounds

Basset hounds were originally bred to be hunting dogs. From the long ears to the loose skin around their heads, their mission was to capture and track scent. Swimming is not something they are good at. They may be able to stay afloat for a short time, but will tire fast. Carrying two thirds of their body weight in the front combined with their short legs makes swimming extremely difficult and almost impossible over an extended period of time.


Boxers, Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese and Boston terriers are all examples of the brachycephalic dog breeds: bred to have relatively short muzzles and noses, it’s common to find the throat and breathing passages in these dogs undersized or flattened. To be a good swimmer you need a strong respiratory system, something these dogs are missing. The Boxer is top heavy with its large chests and small hindquarters, and with the added brachycephalic factors they are not physically built to stay afloat.


As tough and strong as bulldogs are, if they find themselves in water they are in deep trouble. They have large heads, large and heavy bodies, and have short legs and snouts. There is simply no way they can hold themselves above water.

Chow Chows

One undeniable feature of this breed is its thick, dense, double coat. A drenched coat is a heavy burden to carry. Add to that its short muzzle and the Chow Chow may find it difficult to breath or keep its nose above water. They also have deeper chests and shorter legs that in itself make swimming naturally very difficult.


It’s said that many Pembroke Welsh Corgis actually love the water and love swimming. With their almost tube-like bodies and short legs most Corgis are naturally in a disadvantage to be good swimmers. They are not typically water dogs, and keep in mind that although your Corgi may love swimming it does not mean he is a strong swimmer.


As a relatively light-weight breed and longer muzzle, Dachshund doesn’t have the same problem as Pugs or Bulldogs. They can be taught to swim, but with those short legs, they can barely manage to paddle. They’ll never be strong swimmers and may struggle to paddle for any length of time.


Physically the Maltese is more suitable for swimming with its longer muzzle and better proportioned body. It is however susceptible to arthritis, rheumatism, and chills which can greatly shorten the period they can safely stay in water. Closely monitor Maltese during water play and look out for signs of tiring.


One of the thing humans do when they learn to swim is to tilt the head and position the nose to breath in air. The very appearance of pugs with their flat-faced feature makes something like breathing when swimming challenging. Being brachycephalic they can suffer shortness of breath and tire easily. The action of lifting and keeping the head above water almost have the opposite effect on the lower body as it pulls the behind under their body causing them to sink.

Staffordshire bull terrier

The energetic and almost impulsive nature of this breed makes them explorers by heart. Loving exercise they are prone to attempt almost any activity, which may include the odd attempt to swim. The Staffordshire bull terrier isn’t built for swimming as its head size is disproportionate to the body, making it difficult to keep their heads above water for any length of time.

Shih Tzu

With its better proportioned physical form the Shih Tzu is a breed that can actually swim. They are however also brachycephalic with tiny muzzle and small legs which prevent them from being strong swimmers. Like with the Maltese, it’s important to keep in mind that they can quickly catch a chill. Their thick coats when waterlogged will weigh them down faster the longer it is.


20% off solid reinforced pool covers from Aquaflex Cape Town

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