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Best Pools for Dogs: Letting Spot Go for a Splash

Many dogs love to go swimming, but few public pools will welcome your dog-paddling companion. It can also quite the hassle to load up the pup and drive to the local lake or beach on a regular basis.

Thankfully, there is another solution: Just give your dog his own pool!

A number of manufacturers produce swimming pools designed specifically for dogs, which makes it easy for owners to provide more water-time for their pooch.

There are even a couple of products that can be repurposed to make a very effective pool for small and medium-sized dogs. We’ll discuss all your options here – just keep reading!

Quick Picks: Best Dog Pools Our Rating Price
PICK #1:Frontpet’s Foldable Dog Pool $$
PICK #2: Rubbermaid Structural Foam Stock Tank $$$
PICK #3: One Dog One Bone Dog Pool $$$$$
PICK #4: PYRUS Collapsible Pet Pool $$$
PICK #5: Alcott Mariner Inflatable Pool $$

Continue reading for more in-depth reviews

The Benefits of Puppy Pools

While some dogs do appear to be land lovers, who’d rather keep their fur dry, most pups adore the water and will gleefully jump at the chance to swim or soak for a while. In fact, water-time provides a number of important benefits for dogs.

For example:

Most dogs enjoy the activity. While there are several substantive reasons to provide your dog with a pool, putting a smile on Spot’s face is probably enough encouragement for most owners. Generally speaking, if an activity isn’t dangerous or destructive, and your dog likes to do it, you should probably let him! Pool-time definitely meets these criteria.

Water play is mentally stimulating. It is important to remember that our dogs live relatively coddled lives. This means that boredom – and the associated behavioral problems – are unfortunately common. However, pool-time provides a number of interesting and unusual stimuli, which will keep your dog’s brain active and busy.

Water provides relief from soaring summertime temperatures. Dogs get hot in the summer and, just like your human kids, your fur babies enjoy the opportunity to cool off with a quick dip in the pool. Their wet fur will even keep them cooler for a while, as it slowly drips and dries. If you’re trying to keep your dog cool in the summer, cooling gel dog vests and cooling dog beds are other options worth considering too!

Swimming is great exercise. You probably won’t be able to find a dog pool big and deep enough to give large breeds the opportunity to swim, but there are several pools large enough to let small and medium-sized breeds paddle around a bit. Swimming is a low-impact, high-intensity activity which will help keep your dog fit and trim.

Pools make a great receptacle for bath time. If you don’t like to bathe Spot in your bathtub or shower, you can just use a pet pool instead. This makes cleanup much easier, and helps prevent wet carpets and that wet-dog smell from spreading all over your home. Just be sure to properly dispose of the soapy water afterwards, so you don’t pollute the local water shed (you don’t, for example, want to dump soapy water right into a storm drain – ).

Just watch out – once you’ve got your dog pool set up, your home might be the new canine hang out! Maybe your yard will soon look like this. We can dream, can’t we?

Different Dog Pool Designs: Finding the Perfect Pool

Dog pools can be made from a variety of materials, in a variety of shapes and with just about any capacity desired. However, when comparing commercial products, three different designs dominate the marketplace.

Each has its own pros and cons, and is best suited for different situations, so be sure to select the style that suits you and your dog best.

Inflatable Pools

Inflatable pools are the lightest and most portable dog pools available, so they are great for families on the go.

Even the largest models fold up very compactly and weigh next to nothing once deflated. And because of their soft walls, the chances of your dog being injured while entering or exiting the pool are very low.

However, while many inflatable dog pools are made with relatively strong plastic, some dogs can still puncture them quite easily. Even small dogs will usually penetrate the side walls of the pool after some period of use. Most can be patched, but this can become a tedious task if your pup pops the pool repeatedly.

And speaking of tedious, it can be exhausting to inflate large pools with your own lungs. So, be sure to select an inflatable pool that will work with a pump of some type, if you go this route.

Folding Pools

Folding pools are another portable and easily stored option, which solve some of the problems from which inflatable pools suffer.

Rather than thin plastic, folding pool walls are usually made from semi-rigid panels. When empty, they fold inward, allowing you to pack up the pool; but when filled, the water pressure pushes the walls out, allowing the pool to keep its shape.

Folding pools do not require inflation, so they are easier to set up than inflatable pools are. And because the panels are rigid, rather than air-filled, they are pretty durable and aren’t as vulnerable to your dog’s claws. Additionally, many folding pools have drains installed in the side wall, which make them easy to empty and pack up when swimming time is over.

Rigid Pools

Rigid pools are somewhat similar to kiddie pools that your kids may use. Usually made from very strong plastic, rigid pools are the most durable of the three basic options, and most will stand up to nearly anything your dog can dish out.

Rigid dog pools extra durability make them a great choice for those rough and tough dogs who destroy regular squeaky and plush toys in minutes.

Your dog may scratch up the sides a little bit with his claws, but this won’t cause the pool to leak. Some rigid pools contain drains and other features which help make these pools easy to use.

However, the durability of rigid pools comes at a price: They always take up the same amount of room and are difficult to transport and store. Some may even be a bit on the heavy side, making them a poor choice for small or elderly dog owners.

dog pools

Best Dog Pool Options: Our Top 5 Picks

The following five products are some of the best options available on the market. While the first four are designed specifically for dogs, the fifth option is actually designed for an entirely different purpose.

Just keep the above mentioned factors in mind when making your choice, and try to select the best option for your pooch.

1. Frontpet Foldable Dog Pool

About: Frontpet’s Foldable Dog Pool is a portable, easy-to-set-up pool that provides owners with a great way to let their pooch go for a swim. And although it only weighs a hair more than 10 pounds, the Frontpet Foldable Pool is quite durable and designed to last for a long time.

Price: $$
Our Rating

Sizes:

  • Small – 32” diameter, 8” depth
  • Large — 50” diameter, 12” depth

Type: Folding

Features:

  • Made from extra-tough PVC, designed to resist your dog’s claws
  • Comes with storage bag to keep the pool protected while not in use
  • Includes plastic drain spout that makes it easy to empty

PROS: Owners found the pool’s walls to be stable while full of water, and most were pleased with the size of the pool, which provided enough room for small- and medium-sized dogs to play. Large dogs tend to use it more like a bathtub than a pool, but this is still an enjoyable way for a pup to spend the day.

CONS: Several owners find themselves displeased with the durability of the material, especially that which is used for the floor. The manufacturer recommends placing a tarp or blanket underneath the pool when setting it up on a hard surface to help prevent tears and punctures, but this didn’t help in all cases.

2. Rubbermaid Structural Foam 50-Gallon Stock Tank

About: The Rubbermaid Structural Foam Stock Tank is actually designed as a water reservoir for horses and cattle, but it can also make a great pool for your pup. Many owners of large dogs find these super-durable tanks to be a better option than any of the commercially manufactured dog pools.

Price: $$$
Our Rating

Sizes: 51-2/3″ long x 31″ wide x 12″ deep (several other sizes available)

Type: Rigid

Features:

  • Textured surface provides dogs with a good grip to prevent slips and falls
  • Aftermarket drain spouts are available to make emptying the tank easier
  • Made in the USA

PROS: Many dog owners are surprised at how much they like stock tanks, and find that they are the perfect tool for bathing a dog. The Rubbermaid Stock Tank is virtually indestructible and should last for years, not matter how big or rambunctious your dog is.

CONS: The biggest drawback to the Rubbermaid Stock Tank is its bulky size. However, while the tank is not terribly portable or easy to store, it is quite light, weighing less than 20 pounds. While your dog won’t care what his new pool looks like, these stock tanks are not very attractive, which may turn off some dog owners.

3. One Dog One Bone Bone-Shaped Pool

About: The One Dog One Bone Dog Pool is a rigid and durable pool that is built in a fun and dog-appropriate shape. Made from the same type of plastic used to line truck beds, this pool is built to last for one summer after another.

Price: $$$$$
Our Rating

Size: 66” x 44” x 11”

Type: Rigid

Features:

  • 85-gallon capacity gives small and medium-sized pups plenty of room to play
  • Made with a brass drain, which makes draining the pool easy
  • Durable plastic used in the construction of the pool is resistant to the sun’s UV rays and your dog’s teeth

PROS: Most dogs appear to love this pool, and it is large enough to accommodate even fairly large breeds (several owners of 80- to 120-pound dogs found it more than adequate). The One Dog One Bone Pool is also relatively lightweight, weighing only about 21 pounds. This makes it easy to move around and store the pool.

CONS: Most owners report being happy with the One Dog One Bone Pool, although a few expressed concerns over the slippery bottom, which makes it difficult for some dogs to stand on the bottom. Some anti-slip mats might be a smart added purchase.

4. PYRUS Collapsible Pet Pool

About: The PYRUS Collapsible Pet Pool is a folding pool, designed to be as portable as possible, without sacrificing durability or function. The side panels provide great rigidity to ensure the pool remains stable, while still being soft to the touch, for your dog’s comfort.

Price: $$$
Our Rating

Sizes:

  • Large – 47.3” diameter, 11.8” deep
  • Extra Large – 63” diameter, 11.1” depth

Type: Folding

Features:

  • Includes plastic drain plug, which makes the pool easy to empty and collapse
  • Made from environmentally friendly PVC
  • Folds flat for ease of storage and only weights about 15 pounds, making it easy to take on vacations and trips

PROS: Many owners were surprised by the durability of the pool, noting that their dog’s claws didn’t puncture the material, even after extended periods of use. The combination of portability and resiliency of the pool was also appreciated by many owners.

CONS: A few owners report problems with punctures or rips, although most managed fine. The bottom of the pool is more vulnerable to damage than the side panels, so the manufacturer recommends placing the pool on a tarp or blanket to protect the bottom. And while this isn’t terribly difficult to do, it would be better if the manufacturer would just use thicker plastic on the bottom.

5. Alcott Mariner Inflatable Pool

About: The Alcott Mariner Inflatable Pool is a good option for owners who prize portability above all else. The pool is pretty spacious when inflated and filled with water, but it collapses into a very small size and weighs only 4 pounds.

Price: $$
Our Rating

Size: 48” diameter, 16” maximum height

Type: Inflatable

Features:

  • The scalloped pool edge provides easy entry and exit routes for your dog
  • Includes repair kit for patching small punctures and rips
  • Made with a drain plug to make emptying the pool quick and easy

PROS: Although you must inflate the Alcott Mariner Inflatable Pool before using it, it relies on three separate air bladders, rather than one large one. This makes it slightly easier to inflate, and ensures that it will stay partially inflated if one of the sections becomes punctured. The scalloped pool edges are also a nice addition that allows small dogs to better access the pool.

CONS: The most common complaint from owners revolve around dogs puncturing their pools. However, this is a well-known shortcoming of inflatable pools, and is hardly surprising. While the Alcott Mariner Pool comes with a patch kit, this will not enable you to repair rips that occur at the seams.

Our Top Choice For Doggie Pools: The Rubbermaid Stock Tank

For most owners, the Rubbermaid Stock Tank will be your best dog pool option. It’s the most durable of the bunch and can’t be punctured or scratched easily like many other pools.

The only downfall is it’s size. However, as long as portability isn’t a must-have feature, the stock tank route is probably the way to go!

Dog Pool Safety: Play Safe & Smart!

To make sure pool time ends on a good note, you will want to keep safety in mind while letting your pup splash around a little. For the most part, you’ll keep your pup safe by just using common sense, but keep the following suggestions in mind to help prevent your pup from suffering an injury.

Keep a close eye on dogs swimming in water that is deeper than shoulder height. Most dogs are good swimmers, but they can still drown for a variety of reasons, so always be sure to watch them closely (and fit them with a doggie life jacket whenever they are in deep water). However, when talking about puppy pools, this is generally only a concern for small dogs (few pools are deep enough to allow large breeds to swim, so it becomes a non issue).

Be careful when allowing multiple dogs to swim at the same time. Even dogs that normally get along very well may quarrel thanks to the excitement of pool time. The associated pushing, shoving and flailing between pups can lead to injuries.

Use caution when allowing dogs to swim in cool weather. Even double-coated breeds can become chilled if the air or water temperature is too low. As a general rule, you’ll want to be very careful when the temperature drops below about 70 degrees. Some dogs will still stay suitably warm in slightly lower temperatures (many hunting dogs routinely swim in frigid water), but caution is warranted. If you notice your dog shivering or becoming lethargic, dry him off promptly and get him inside to warm up.

Use sunscreen for dogs with thin or short hair. Dogs can and do get sunburns, and they’re likely as painful for your pup as they are for people. You can help reduce the chances of sunburn by simply slathering on a little sunscreen made especially for dogs.

Clean the pool regularly with soap and water. Over time, many dog pools develop a filmy layer of bacteria and fungi. To help reduce the chances that your dog will get sick from swimming in a petri dish, you’ll want to periodically scrub out the pool with a little soap and warm water. After washing and rinsing the pool, place it in the sun to dry completely.

Consider a ramp or stairs when dealing with a larger pool. The pools we’ve discussed here are small and designed more-or-less exclusively for a dog’s use (or a few toddlers). However, if you have an in-ground or large yard pool, your dog can certainly enjoy that as well! You just may want to consider a set of pool ramps or steps to help your dog easily get out of the pool. Teaching your dog to use a device like this to escape from the pool could be a lifesaver in the event of an accident.

Also, while this isn’t really a safety issue for dogs, you’ll want to make sure you let your dog relieve himself before letting him go for a swim. Dogs won’t go to the bathroom while they are swimming, but they may sprinkle (or worse) while standing in shallow water. This isn’t the end of the world, but it will mean you have to empty and refill the pool.

dog-pool

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Do you give your pup a pool for hot-weather playtime? What style pool have you found works best? We’d love to hear about your experiences! Let us know in the comments below.

Looking to cool off your pup in the heat? Also make sure to check out our articles on:

About the Author Ben Team

Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.

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