Safe Swimming Spots for Your Pets

Safe Swimming Spots for Your Pets

Who doesn't love a good lake or river day in Texas? I don't know about your pups, but my boxer wants to swim all day, every day.

We heard his (and the other active pups) outcry and put together a list of safe, pet-friendly swimming holes in the Austin and surrounding areas.

Dog swimming with sunglasses on

Important Notes: Please follow local and city guidelines regarding safety and closures.  

The City of Austin confirmed a harmful "blue, green" algal bloom on Lady Bird Lake beginning in July 2019. The algae emits a toxin that has been deadly to dogs and is caused by a rise in water temperature from the spring/summer heat. The City of Austin and Highland Lakes have since found low levels of toxins present. Testing and treatments against algae blooms have resumed this summer.

As of June 3rd, 2024 – Risk is HIGH for pets. Algae is in full bloom on Lady Bird Lake. Though not all of it is harmful, blue-green algae, they all mix together. Please assume all algae may be toxic and avoid it. We recommend you do not allow dogs to ingest algae or swim in Lady Bird Lake or Lake Austin - this includes Emma Long, Festival Beach, Red Bud Isle, and Auditorium Shores.

For monitoring data for local watering holes, click here.  
For monitoring data for Highland Lakes (west Austin), click here.

Safe Swimming Spots for Your Pets

Five Mile Dam

Location: 4440 Old Stagecoach Rd, San Marcos, TX 78666
Hours: Sunrise to 8 PM, daily

Amenities: Five Mile Dam is 42 acres of green space and river bed. It's a San Marcos destination for river swimming, boating, walking trails, and even soccer. The large flat rocks and small waterfalls along the river bed make it easy for dogs to run and jump safety in water while playing fetch. No lifeguards are on duty, so swim at your own risk.  

Rio Vista Park

Location: 555 Cheatham St. San Marcos, TX 78666
Hours: Open all day

Amenities: Rio Vista Park is a great place to put your kayak in and paddle upstream or just swim in the deep watering hole. Looking for your next fetch spot? You got it! The flat rocks along the river bed make it easy for dogs to run and jump safety into the water. No lifeguards are on duty, so swim at your own risk. 
Pro Tip: Weekends get packed - arrived before noon to get the best spot. 

Jumping Jack Dog Ranch

Location: 13731 Carpenter Lane, Manchaca, TX, 78652
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6:30 AM - 10 AM & 3 PM- 7:30 PM; Saturday-Sunday: 9 AM - 6 PM

Amenities: Jumping Jack Dog Ranch has a large fenced-in yard with a dog-themed pool. The circular pool features a beach-front entry for dogs that like to romp and splash through the shallow end, as well as a deeper end for the pups who enjoy swimming and jumping in! It also has a fire hydrant water fountain in the middle of a bone-shaped island! How cute is that?!
Bonus: Rent the private dog park complete with a swimming pool for your pups for $50/hr. You can bring a few of your dog's friends, or just have your pup, it's totally up to you. There is no lifeguard on duty, so you are responsible for your dog's safety. Note that kiddos under 12 aren't allowed at the pool, but you can bring food or soft drinks (just no glass). 

Cedar Bark Park

Location: Veterans Memorial Park, 2525 West New Hope Drive, Cedar Park, Texas 78613
Hours: Sunrise to 10 PM. Note that the Bark Park is closed every Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for cleaning and maintenance.

Amenities:  The Cedar Bark Park is a 5-acre fenced in dog park located in Veterans Memorial Park at 2525 W. New Hope Drive, Cedar Park, TX 78613. Some of the amenities include a natural dog pond, pet waste stations, benches, drinking fountains, dog showers, and natural features. This park is a Cedar Park favorite!

K9 Water World

Location: 3006 FM621, San Marcos, TX 78666
Hours: Office is open Monday - Friday 7:00-11:30 a.m. and 1-5 p.m.; Saturdays from 7:00-11:00 a.m. Their pool is open 7 days per week by appointment.

Amenities:  K9 Water World was developed for dogs and their human companions. They offer a 48' x 21' swimming pool for exercise, therapy, and dock diving. You can even swim with your dog(s) if you like (and many people do).

Tailwind Dock Diving

Location: 1808 Carter Road, Dale, Texas  78616
Hours: Office is open 9:00 am to 8:00 pm daily. Their pool is open 7 days per week by appointment.

Amenities: Looking for low impact exercise for young pups or a therapeutic activity for senior dogs? Tailwind Dock Diving offers a large swimming pool for exercise, therapy, and dock diving! You can book the dock for private parties or lessons. Call ahead to make a reservation for your pup!

Pedernales Falls State Park

Location: 2585 Park Road 6026 Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: 8 AM to 10 PM, daily

Amenities: At Pedernales Falls State Park, you can camp, hike, mountain bike, picnic, geocache, bird watch and ride horses. On the river, you can swim, wade, tube or fish. Look for local wildlife and plants at the bird blind and butterfly garden. Access to the swimming area is a strenuous 1/4-mile (or more) hike, and includes steep rock stairs with no handrail.

dog in water looking a camera

Important notes:

Due to reports of sickness and low levels of toxins present, Barton Creek Spillway/Barkin' Creek & Twin Falls/Sculpture Falls (November 2021) and also Inks Lakes Park (August 2023) did not make our list this year. If visiting these areas, stick to areas with fast moving water, where algae cannot bloom and be steer clear of visible, floating algae.

What to look for with blue green algae (soft green masses on water)

The following locations were considered but, because of their continued toxicity throughout the years, we can no longer recommend they are safe for pets at this time: Emma Long Park, Mansfield Dam Park, Jessica Hollis Park.

Before heading out for a swim:

  • Bring ample amounts of drinkable water for you and your pet(s)
  • Avoid warm, stagnant water in swimming areas
  • Rinse off well after swimming

Unsure about your pet's safety at the mentioned swimming spots? A kiddie pool is another great option for your dogs to cool down while playing outside. 

Know of any swimming holes that are safe and pet-friendly? Drop us a note at 

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