One of the biggest advantages to having a pool cover is for a barrier between water, children and animals. Safety covers protect beloved pets yes, but also wild animals, from the dangers of drowning, and ensure that you can have pool safety even if you are not home. Nobody likes coming home to a wild animal in the water – whether alive or otherwise. Claws can damage vinyl liner pools, and if the animal has been in the pool for long, a complete disinfection should be done with the water (super shocking).
While swimming pools can be known for fun in the sun and a great pastime for summer, for animals it can be something entirely different. Wildlife can spot a pool, and in certain conditions and circumstances, may want to take a drink or a dip, or both. Some animals such as bears, actually have been known to cool off in a pool. In Florida, Alligators are not totally out of character, or an uncommon occurrence either. Young deer can think they've found an oasis, and are easily scared, right into the pool!
Pool drowning occurrences are tragic, but preventable. Animals ranging from frogs, mice and snakes to ducks and chipmunks can get a pool without having a way to escape. Wild animal babies are especially at risk. Squirrels, rabbits and other creatures of the woods may be scared into falling into the pool. I do not have any data, but I would guess that nationwide, there are thousands of wild animal drownings in swimming pools, annually.
If you have a problem with waterfowl; ducks and geese, here's a crazy idea! Build them a small pond of their own, about 6 or 8 foot wide. This is a more natural pond for them that they can get used to and hopefully prefer it to your pool or spa. Additionally, because it is natural; no pool chemicals found in their pond, the water is better suited and healthier for them.
If you are building a pool, you can design ledges along the sides under the water’s surface to give shallow areas for animals to escape from.
What if you find an animal in the water and they are having trouble escaping? For smaller animals such as birds and frogs, you can scoop them out with a net or skimmer. You can also use a bristled end of a broom and lift gently. For larger animals you can use chaise deck lounges or a partially deflated pool float as a ramp, and of course, use caution to avoid getting a bite.
Proper perimeter pool fences, and internal barriers can deter many animals from a swimming pool. Nothing however, is quite as effective a barrier as a pool safety cover.
Swimming with your Pet
What about your cat or dog? Pools can be good for dogs that enjoy going for a swim. While this is nice exercise, be sure to provide for plenty of supervision at all times. If you cannot provide supervision, a fence can be useful.
Many breeds of dogs are able to swim but there are several that are not strong swimmers or may not even know how to swim.
Be diligent in watching puppies as with all animals, and humans too, the youngest are the most likely to fall into pool water and drown. All dogs that will be around your pool should be trained on how to swim to the steps, or ramp - how to find the exit. Even if you have built in steps to your pool, it's not so intuitive to dogs until they are trained to exit the pool.
Older dogs, on the other hand, have less energy and can tire more quickly than other dogs and therefore need to be watched closely as well. Vision problems can become an issue for older dogs, who didn't see the pool edge, and then couldn't find the exit. Cats - they usually avoid the pool altogether but could be scared right into the pool by a larger animal, or a loud thunderclap, anything really. Cats are actually naturally good swimmers but without much power in their swim stroke. They can panic themselves into exhaustion if there are no ramps or steps to climb out of.
Do not let your pet drink pool water because of problems with consuming pool chemicals. Chemicals such as chlorine can cause damage to digestive system and provide for all sorts of problems. If a cat goes swimming, afterwards make it a point to clean out the ears from the possibility of ear infection.
Safety Pool Products
Pool safety covers are the ultimate in animal safety. Animals lose their bearings quickly if they fall into a pool. With a drum tight safety pool cover, children and animals are safe, it literally holds thousands of pounds! For both domesticated and wild animals there are ways to prevent accidental drowning. Many pool owners rely on safety pool covers to keep animals and debris out of the water during a long off-season.
Floating pool covers can be trouble for dogs and cats alike, and are not strong enough to hold weight, not safe except for any pet. Many dogs, even those who are good swimmers, have lost their lives to a solid, water bag type pool cover. These type of winter covers are disorienting to dogs and difficult for them to get loose, as the plastic material wraps around their legs and the weight of the water on the other side pushes the cover tighter.
Skamper Ramp is a nice little escape for critters who can figure out how to remove themselves from the water and not leave a mess for you to clean later. It attaches to two anchors in the deck (like brass safety cover anchors), and floats on the surface. Great for pools that do not have wedding cake style steps in the shallow end. Remember, dogs can't climb pool ladders!
Another factor to consider is your pool fence. Pool fences allow you to keep the pool closed off to a dog that you are not able to supervise at all times. Accidental drowning can occur at any time – and a drowning happens very quickly. Therefore it is essential to prevent drowning in the first place, such as by way of a fence to cut off the option of getting to the water. Locking gate fences are best for both domesticated and wild animals, but it won't keep them all out.
For pets, one of the best ways to prevent any accidents is to give them a Safety Turtle wearable water sensor. Attaches to any collar; sets off a loud alarm inside the house when the tag is submerged in water. Portable unit plugs in anywhere, with up to a 200 ft. range.
~ Even when you're away from home, keep your pool safe for pets and wild animals.