Do Dogs Suffer When They Drown-The Sad Reality

Dogs are often said to be “happy-go-lucky” creatures, and for good reason.

They are loyal, playful, and affectionate creatures that form close bonds with their owners. But do dogs suffer when they drown? Do they suffer the way humans do?

This is a question that has long been debated by pet owners and experts alike. And the answer is Yes, dogs do indeed experience pain and suffering when they drown because the supply of oxygen to their brain becomes limited and can cause them to die in a remarkably unpleasant way.

If you are a dog owner, it is important to be aware of these findings so you can make informed decisions about how to protect your furry friend and that is what I will be discussing in this blog post to keep your canine companion safe from terrible accidents and live a happy life.

So, let’s get started!

How Long Does A Dog Take To Drown?

Dogs can drown in just 5-7 minutes.

Water enters the mouth and is swallowed which makes it difficult for them to breathe.

They panic, shaking their heads to try to keep water out of their nose and mouth, but they cannot lift themselves or turn on their side with their feet in place; this moves water into the lungs instead of the stomach.

Water in the lungs means they cannot inhale air, so there is no oxygen to support life. Lack of oxygen causes them to suffocate and drown.

It is very difficult for a dog to save himself from drowning even if he is a prolific swimmer. They usually die in the water unless someone intervenes and helps them.

do dogs suffer when they drown

Do Dogs Suffer When They Drown?

Dogs drown, and they do suffer. There is no doubt about this because dogs lack the physical part of their brain that prevents them from breathing in water.

They have a very high drive to survive, so they try as hard as they can to live even when their bodies are telling them not to breathe.

The panic and struggle cause them to die an even more unpleasant death than humans because they take much longer to drown. Respiratory impairment from submersion, cardiac arrhythmias, and brain damage can all occur in dogs who drowned.

Every single one of them dies in a very unpleasant way.

They cannot save themselves and they suffer greatly until the end, which is why it is important to always be aware of your surroundings when you are with your dogs.

Signs Of Drowning In Dogs

Signs of drowning in dogs include

It can be difficult to tell if your dog is distressed in the water. Every time you take it out, you’ll need to watch for signs that may indicate it’s struggling.

Some of these include

  1. The dog is lethargic, has low energy, or appears tired.
  2. The dog’s breathing is slowed down significantly or stopped completely.
  3. Weak pulse in the veins of front legs. If you are unable to feel a pulse on your dog’s front leg, check for a weak pulse at the base of the neck.
  4. The dog is vomiting and/or exhibiting a cough. If water was aspirated into his lungs, expect to see these symptoms during the early stages of the drowning process.
  5. The dog is foaming at the mouth.
  6. Dog may be trying to push his head out from water or moving his legs as if he’s trying to swim. Sometimes, the only sign of a dog being in distress is labored or loud breathing.
  7. The dog is unable to get out of the water on his own, and will not respond to your commands.
  8. Mouth chattering
  9. Gulping for air
  10. Trying to climb out of the pool
  11. Vigorous splashing
  12. Whining or barking loudly while in the water

Dog drowning can happen in a variety of circumstances.

For example, a tired animal may have been carrying something heavy from one side of a body of water to the other when the load got too heavy and he collapsed.

The dog may have been bitten by a snake, which forced him into the water to save himself from possible death.

In many cases, drowning in canines is accidental or unintentional on the part of both dog and owner alike.

What To Do If A Dog Has Drowned?

If a dog drowns, it is likely that you will have a number of problems to deal with at the same time.

There is water in the lungs and this must be removed

This needs to be done as soon as possible, otherwise, the lung tissues will break down and the lung will collapse and could cause accidental death.

Compression of the chest must be done to expel water from the lungs

This is best done using someone’s knee pushed firmly between the shoulder blades to compress the dog’s chest cavity. For that put partial pressure  on the dog’s ribcage and help push the water out of the lungs.

A firm, quick movement is required to make this work and it may need to be repeated several times.

You may have to use rocks or bricks to help you in this procedure if no one is there to assist you with it. But remember it is only a partial pressure, so don’t crush the dog’s ribcage.

If the dog is not breathing, you must clear his airways and start artificial respiration as soon as possible

Be aware that dogs take about 30 seconds longer to restart their breathing than humans do. After fresh water drowning, it is also important to warm the dog’s body as soon as possible to prevent hypothermia.

You should place a tube down the dog’s throat

This should be done so he can breath more easily and remove any water from the lungs.

If there is a lot of water in the lungs and you cannot remove it all, you must put your mouth over his nose and blow very gently until some of the water comes out. Stop every few seconds and let the dog breathe, then blow again untill the salt water is coming out of his nose and mouth.

Artificial respiration will also have to be performed if the dog is not breathing on his own.

This is done by placing your mouth over his nose and breathing very gently into it until you see the dog’s chest rise. Then stop for a few seconds and let him breathe on his own if he can. If not, start the artificial respiration process again.

Other than that

  • The dog must be kept warm and quiet until he has recovered and is breathing normally
  • Be aware that a dog may go into shock after it has recovered from fresh water drowning, so keep the area warm and quiet until the dog is ready to stand up and walk around.
  • If a dog has drowned, he will need immediate medical attention to clear water from his lungs and prevent lung damage.
  • If you are not confident that you would be able to clear the dog’s lungs, then you should take him to veterinary surgery as soon as possible.

How To Prevent Your Dog From Drowning?

Many dog owners are fond of swimming with their pets.

While it is certainly a lot of fun to swim in the pool or go to a beach together with your dog, it can also be a potentially dangerous activity.

Here are some tips on preventing your dog from drowning

  1. Make sure your dog can swim before you take him or her to the pool. If not, practice in a pond or lake with very shallow water before taking them to deeper water.
  2. If you want to go swimming but your dog doesn’t know how get them used to the water gradually by applying warm wet towels on their feet and legs and by encouraging them to walk after you into the water. It is very important that they get used to the feeling of the water touching their skin and eventually, they will like it.
  3. If your dog doesn’t like getting his or her head wet, use a “water noodle” (a long floating tube) around their neck so they can swim and breathe without worrying about water going into their ears and nose.
  4. Be very careful if your dog likes to jump in the pool or in the sea: often, they don’t know how to get back on land by themselves. You need to be around so you can help them get out again.
  5. If there is a strong current, don’t let your dog swim.
  6. Don’t leave your dog unattended in the pool or in the sea, even for a short amount of time. Even if they are strong swimmers, or even prolific swimmer things can happen and you need to be there to help them when their exposure to water is over.
  7. Make sure that you always have a good hold on your dog’s leash when taking them to the beach or pool. If your dog decides that he or she wants to go back, you need to be able to pull them out immediately.
  8. Always make them wear a life vest because a life vest can save their life in case of an emergency and safe them from secondary drowning and live a happy life without risk.
  9. If it is very hot outside, make sure your dog doesn’t stay in the water for too long as they can easily become overheated and drown.
  10. Never throw your dog in the water without a life jacket (even if they like to fetch).
  11. If you want to go swimming with your dog but don’t know how, contact a local pool and see if they offer swimming lessons for dogs. It is also worth contacting some local vets; many of them offer these kinds of classes at low prices to make the experience helpful.

Why Dogs Have Trouble Breathing After They’ve Been Submerged In Water For Too Long ?

Most dogs can not stay submerged in water for a long period, as they will eventually begin to drown.

The main cause of death by drowning is that the water causes relaxation of the airway, which then fills with liquid.

The dog will begin to panic and may thrash around in an attempt to climb out, but as it tires its efforts will become weaker and less effective. This process can lead to the dog losing consciousness within 1 to 2 minutes.

When the dog has lost consciousness, the muscles that control its breathing will shut down and it will suffocate. The dog can then be resuscitated but will suffer from brain damage.

Other common causes of death by drowning are chlorine toxicity and the inhalation of too much water. In either case, the liquid will wash out the gases in the lungs that keep them inflated.

This can lead to the lungs collapsing or to air bubbles being released into the bloodstream, which will also pollute the blood.

How to treat a dog that has drowned?

Dogs that have drowned are often in a state of shock and the very first thing you must do is to get them out of the water.

If you can’t get them out, try to roll the animal over on its side while supporting the head. This will let any water drain out of the mouth and nose. Now, get them out of the water and to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Remove His Wet Fur

You can remove wet fur with a towel but try not to rub too much, just blot dry. If your dog is conscious give it lots of love and attention and keep it calm until you arrive at the veterinary office.

If the dog is unconscious, keep the head level with the body and you should be able to feel or hear a gentle heartbeat. Don’t offer food or water as long as the animal is not conscious.

Keep Him Warm

If the heart is beating and you can feel a pulse then it has probably not suffered any permanent damage.

Just keep your dog warm and as quiet as possible until you arrive at your veterinary office. If the heart is not beating or if there isn’t a pulse, try to restart blood flow by applying light pressure on both sides of its chest.

If it’s a conscious, adult dog you should be able to feel its heartbeat in its chest. If it’s a small or toy breed place your fingers and thumb on either side of its breastbone.

If it’s a large breed place your fingers over the rib cage about one inch behind the elbow.

While applying light pressure, rub your fingers backwards away from the heart. You should be able to feel it beating beneath your fingers.

Give Him CPR

It’s important to work quickly since the longer blood flow is stopped, the greater the chance that permanent damage will result.

If you cannot restart the heart or a pulse, begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and continue until it’s breathing or veterinary help arrives.

Keep in mind that while you are attempting to revive your dog, water may still be rushing into its lungs so don’t stop CPR too soon.

The first twenty minutes are the most critical and if your dog is revived within the first 10 minutes, the chances of survival are good.

There’s a very slight chance that a dog will suffer brain damage after drowning so if it fails to show any improvement in the first few hours, don’t give up hope.

Apply Some Pressure On His Chest

If you don’t have a heartbeat or pulse try massaging the heart by using one hand to massage downward between your dog’s hind legs.

The pressure should mimic the pressure of blood pushing on the diaphragm during contractions. Be careful not to use too much pressure because you could damage its internal organs.

If you have trouble finding the heartbeat, lay your dog on its back while lifting its rear legs up in the air.

It’s kidneys are located just behind the last ribs so by lifting the legs slightly you will be able to feel the “kidneys” on either side of its spine.

Stroke downwards until you reach the area where your dog’s bladder is located which should be about one inch behind its kidneys.

Oxygen therapy with positive airway pressure is often used to help a dog that has drowned.

A tube is inserted into the trachea and oxygen is given through this tube. This will help to keep the animal’s lungs inflated and also help to remove any water that may be in them.

The use of positive airway pressure will also help to prevent any further damage to the lungs and also reduce chances of any unintentional injury death of your canine.

Plan A Vet Visit

If you still cannot find its heartbeat, try massaging both sides of the chest at once by placing fingers over both shoulders.

If you have a large breed, use two hands to massage the entire length of its rib cage. While doing this, gently stroke down towards its feet with your palms facing each other like you were squeezing toothpaste out of a tube.

These tips will help keep your dog alive and well until you can reach a veterinarian.

How Long Can A Dog Swim Before Drowning?

It’s a question many people ask on a regular basis, but there isn’t really a cut-and-dry answer.

There are things that need to be considered when giving an answer.

Some dogs can swim for hours at a time without any problems, while others might struggle if they only make it ten minutes in the water before they start to drown.

So, how long can a dog swim before it starts to drown? It’s a delicate balance of both time and health for the animal. 

Older dogs might not be able to swim as well as younger counterparts due to their age, arthritis or other ailments that might make swimming more difficult.

Dogs that have a hard time getting around on land will have a much harder time in the water.

On the other hand, young healthy dogs with a natural affinity for swimming could potentially have no trouble swimming for hours at a time while never starting to drown.

Dog breeds that are more prone to drowning

There are different breeds of dogs that are more prone to drowning than others. 

Some of them include:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Poodle
  • Retriever
  • Golden retriever
  • Dachshund
  • Basset Hound
  • Rottweiler and Great Danes are also listed as breeds that can be at risk for drowning.

There may be other breeds that aren’t on the list of high-risk dogs, but if they distressed or in the water long enough, they could suffer at similar rates.

What Is The Difference Between Wet Drowning And Dry Drowning In Dogs?

When a dog is submerged in water, their natural instinct is to paddle and try to reach the surface.

If they are successful in reaching the air, they will typically cough and sneeze out any water that has entered their lungs and they will be fine. This is what is known as wet drowning or fresh water drowning.

However, sometimes dogs can aspirate small amounts of water into their lungs without ever reaching the surface.

This is called dry drowning. Symptoms of dry drowning can include coughing, trouble breathing, fatigue, and collapse. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms after swimming, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately as dry drowning can be fatal.

Treatment typically involves giving your dog oxygen and fluids to help them breathe and flush the water out of their system. With prompt treatment, most dogs make a full recovery from dry drowning.


Pet owners need to be extra diligent when it comes to watching dogs around any type of water, even if they are fantastic swimmers.

This is especially true if the dog is recovering from surgery, has health issues or other conditions that could interfere with its ability to get around.

I hope after reading this blog post all your questions about do dogs suffer when they drown have been answered.

If you have another question or would like to leave a comment please leave it in the comment section below.


How long can a dog survive without oxygen?

Dogs need oxygen to live, but when they are in water that has too high of a force, they can drown.

The lack of oxygen will cause the dog to suffocate, and if they are not lucky, may die in the process if they are not rescued in time.

Puppies have a higher surface area to body weight ratio, so they lose heat more quickly.

Veterinary experts have reported that dogs can suffer brain damage after about 6 minutes of being submerged in water.

Why does my dog need to learn how to swim?

Dogs love water and will enjoy cooling off or playing with toys in a pool, but they may also need to swim to survive.

This is especially true if they like to swim in the ocean or other bodies of water. If your dog falls overboard while boating, he could drown unless he’s a strong swimmer.

Swimming is also an excellent form of exercise for your dog if he likes to play fetch or get in the water with you.

Dogs love water and will enjoy cooling off or playing with toys in a pool, but they may also need to swim to survive.

This is especially true if they like to swim in the ocean or other bodies of water. If your dog falls overboard while boating, he could drown unless he’s a strong swimmer.

Swimming is also an excellent form of exercise for your dog if he likes to play fetch or get in the water with you.

Can a dog recover from drowning?

No a dog can not recover from drowning. Dogs lack the necessary physiological characteristics to survive submersion under water for more than a few minutes.

Continued exposure to cold water will cause their body temperature to fall rapidly, with death following soon after.

The maximum time of survival is around six to eight minutes before irreversible damage occurs, this includes submersion time and the time it takes for the dog to become unconscious.

How long does it take for a dog to float after drowning?

Floating time varies from breed to breed. Smaller breeds tend to sink more quickly as they have a higher body fat percentage compared with their larger counterparts, who have more webbing between their toes and a higher proportion of muscle, which gives them greater buoyancy.

Generally speaking, it takes about a day or 2 for a dog to float completely, but if their body is disturbed during the early stages of decomposition they may come to the surface faster.

Is it easy for a dog to drown?

No, Despite popular belief, dogs are not natural swimmers. Their bodies are not built for aquatic activity, and they lack the instinctive ability to keep themselves afloat.

As a result, it is surprisingly easy for a dog to drown. Because dogs can quickly become exhausted when trying to swim.

So, if you live near a body of water, it is important to take precautions to prevent your dog from getting into the water so they don’t have to suffer the subjective experience of drowning.

Do dogs bleed when they drown?

No, when a dog drowns, they do not bleed. The reason for this is because when an animal drowns, the blood vessels in their lungs constrict due to the lack of oxygen.

This prevents the blood from flowing into the lungs and instead, causes it to back up into other parts of the body.

The lack of oxygen in the blood vessels can also cause the animal’s heart to stop beating.