How Much Exercise Does My 5 Yr Old Rottweiler Need How to Care for Dog Therapy Pools

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How to Care for Dog Therapy Pools

As holistic animal health becomes more common place for our pets, there is a growing number of canine “health clubs”.

If you’ve ever had a pet, and dogs in particular, you know they need exercise. This is especially so if your canine companion is older or has health issues such as arthritis. I remember Tyler, my father-in-law’s golden retriever. He was a great pet and companion to 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 recent years.

One of the best forms of exercise for humans is swimming. Great for the cardiovascular system. Very low if there is no impact – water provides great buoyancy and near weightlessness. Cooler water helps lower your body temperature and makes your body work harder to stay warm. And if it’s good for you and me, it’ll be great for your pet.

Let’s face it, most dogs love being in the water! They will just jump and swim. It’s almost natural to them. This is especially true for the larger breeds of shepherds, retrievers, certain dogs, rottweilers, etc.

But with dogs in swimming pools, comes the concern of treating them properly. First, we must remember that each dog puts more “stress” or strain on the pool treatment system. It is estimated that one canine in a pool can equal 10 to 50 humans (as reported 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 coat or hair, the amount of hair or hair all come into play in this ratio.

When treating a pool we must take this ratio into account. The average pool may only have 2-5 people a day using it, but add in a single dog, and you’ve blown that usage rate through the roof! Chlorine, bromine, or other disinfectants must be properly adjusted to keep up with the additional burden of the bather. Excess skin and hair in the pool (either floating, on the bottom or sitting in the skimmer baskets) will cause a demand for chlorine (causing excessive chlorine use). Higher levels of chlorine or bromine can dry out your pet’s skin.

With all this excess organic and natural waste entering the pool, biofilms (films of living organic material on the floors, walls and all surfaces of the pool) more easily form throughout the pool and its filter system . As biofilms spread, the demand for chlorine will worsen considerably. The person maintaining the dog pool will be more frustrated at 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 disinfection. And don’t forget the pH! Make sure to maintain a proper pH level of 7.4 – 7.6.

As with people, it may be worth rinsing or showering your dog before entering the pool if for no other reason than to remove some of the initial fur or hair that, otherwise, I would go to the pool. After swimming, shower your pet to remove excess chlorine or bromine from its body.

Pools specializing in canine therapy must consider the following:

  • Maintain a good level of chlorine, bromine or disinfectant. 1.0 – 3.0 ppm FAC (Free Available Chlorine)
  • Maintain an appropriate pH level. 7.4 – 7.6
  • Filter systems must operate a minimum of 12 hours per day, 7 days per week.
  • Skimmer baskets should be fitted with “skimmer socks” to help remove excess skin or hair and prevent clogging of the pump.
  • The pool should be cleaned and vacuumed at least daily to remove as much skin and hair from the pool as possible. Using a good automatic pool cleaner with independent filtration system is a great time saving idea.
  • The pool should be pumped more often, possibly twice a week, to break up and reduce chloramine build-up and the eventual demand for chlorine.
  • Consider using a good quality enzyme product that will naturally eat or consume excess organic debris in your pool water.
  • Also, use products like AquaFinesse Pool Water Care Tablets to continuously remove biofilms from pool surfaces.
  • Depending on the size of the pool and the canine bather load, it may be necessary to drain and refill the pool at least once a year. Watch the total dissolved solids (TDS) to be sure.
  • When TDS levels are 1200-1500 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 a more normal level.

Are there ways to reduce chlorine consumption? Absolutely. Enzyme and biofilm removal products will do just that: break down, remove, and consume biofilms. In addition, you will also notice a better natural water balance.

As in a “human” pool, you always want water as crystal clear as possible, which is also well balanced, treated and maintained. This is not only good for the pool, it’s great for the dog and its owner.

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