As holistic animal health becomes more common place for our pets, there are a growing number of “health clubs” for canines.
If you've ever owned a pet, and dogs in particular, you know that they need exercise. This is especially so if your canine companion is older, or dealing health issues such as arthritis. I remember my father in law's golden retriever Tyler. He was a great pet and companion for my in-laws in their later years. But like many goldens, Tyler suffered from arthritis as he got older. If he had a pool available, it probably would have made it easier or more comfortable for him in last years.
One of the best forms of exercise for humans is swimming. Great for the cardiovascular system. Very low if no impact – water provides great buoyancy and almost weightlessness. The cooler water helps to lower body temperature causing the body to work harder to keep warm. And if it's good for you and me, it's going to be great for your pet.
Let's face it, most dogs LOVE to be in the water! They'll just jump in and swim around. It's almost natural for them. This is especially true of the larger breeds of shepherds, retrievers, certain hounds, rottweilers, etc.
But with dogs in swimming pools, comes concerns as to properly treating them. First, we have to remember that each dog puts additional “stress” or strain on the pool's treating system. It is figured that one canine in a swimming pool can equal 10 to as many as 50 humans (as noted in The Orange Country Register, Spa & Pool Education Committee for Education, Santa Ana, CA, April 16, 1997). Obviously, the size of the dog, the type of fur or hair, the amount of fur or hair will all come into play as to this ratio.
When treating a swimming pool we have to keep that ratio in mind. The average swimming pool may only have 2 to 5 people per day using it, but add just one dog, and you've blown that usage rate right through the roof! Chlorine, bromine or other sanitizers must be properly adjusted to keep up with the additional bather load. Excess shed fur & hair in the pool (whether floating, on the bottom or sitting in the skimmer baskets) will cause a chlorine demand (causing excess chlorine use). Higher levels of chlorine or bromine can dry out your pet's skin.
With all of this excess organic and natural waste going into the pool, biofilms (films of living organic material on the floors, walls and all surfaces of the pool) are more readily formed throughout the swimming pool and its filtering system. As biofilms spread, chlorine demand will worsen considerably. The person maintaining the dog pool facility will become more frustrated in not being able to maintain proper chemical levels.
You always want to maintain a chlorine level of 1.0 to 3.0 ppm, Free Available Chlorine (FAC) for proper sanitizing. And don't forget pH! Be sure to maintain a proper pH level of 7.4 – 7.6.
As with people, it may be worth your while to rinse or shower your dog prior to their entering the pool if for no other reason than to eliminate some of the initial fur or hair that would otherwise go into the pool. After swimming, shower your pet to remove excess chlorine or bromine from their bodies.
Swimming pools specializing in canine therapy should keep the following in mind:
- Maintain a good chlorine, bromine or sanitizer level. 1.0 – 3.0 ppm FAC (free available chlorine)
- Maintain a proper pH level. 7.4 – 7.6
- Filter systems should run a minimum of 12 hours daily, 7 days a week.
- Skimmer baskets should be equipped with “skimmer socks” to help remove excess fur or hair & prevent clogging of the pump.
- The pool should be skimmed & vacuumed at least daily to remove as much shed fur & hair from the pool. Using a good automatic pool cleaner with separate filtration system is a great time saving idea.
- The pool should be shocked more often, possibly twice each week, to break up & reduce chloramine build-up and eventual chlorine demand.
- Consider using a good quality enzyme product that will naturally eat or consume excess organic waste in the pool water.
- Furthermore, use products such as AquaFinesse Pool Water Care Tablets to continually remove biofilms from pool surfaces.
- Depending on pool size & canine bather load, it may be necessary to drain & refill the pool at least once each year. Keep an eye on Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) to be sure.
- When TDS levels are about 1200 to 1500 ppm higher than the initial fill, the pool should be at least partially drained and refilled with fresh (uncontaminated) water to dilute the TDS to more normal level.
Are there ways to reduce chlorine use? Absolutely. The enzyme and biofilm removing products will do exactly that: break up, remove and consume biofilms. Plus, you'll also notice a better, natural water balance.
As in a “human” pool, you always want as sparkling, crystal clear water as possible, that's also well balanced, treated and maintained. This is not only good for the pool, it's great for the dog and his or her owner.