Summer is perfect for spending time at the beach with your dog. You can spend quality time together while getting exercise splashing in the water and playing fetch in the sand with your pup’s favorite dog toys. Of course, the beach poses some risks to your dog, too. This is especially true if your dog is not a strong swimmer, if your beach is not well kept, or if this is your first time taking your dog to the beach. Follow the tips below to ensure a positive experience for you both.
1. Check ahead of time to make sure any beach you intend to visit with your dog allows pets. Find out about any applicable leash laws, and determine what protected wildlife your dog is likely to encounter. It would be a shame to load your dog up in the car and drive to a nearby beach, only to find out that animals are not allowed.
2. Do not assume your dog can swim. Unless your dog has proven his swimming ability, do not assume he can handle himself in the water. Swimming in the ocean is even more challenging than swimming in your pool or backyard lake due to the current. Never leave your dog alone in the water, and put a life vest on even the best swimmer.
3. Fit your dog with a waterproof collar and tags in case you become separated while at the beach. The information on your dog’s tags will help a shelter or other agency find and contact you.
4. Check the sand and surrounding area for hazards, such as broken glass, submerged shells, sharp rocks, and jellyfish, as soon as you arrive. Check your dog periodically throughout the day for cuts and other injuries. Also, ask the lifeguard about jellyfish, sea lice, riptides, or other threats to your dog’s safety to make sure your beach of choice is safe for swimming and that there are no current red flags posted.
5. Provide shade for your dog if your beach doesn’t have any to prevent overheating and sunburn. Bring a beach umbrella that is large enough to allow you and your dog to spread out comfortably. Also, make sure your dog takes regular breaks and has a constant supply of cool, clean water in a bowl to drink.
6. Salt water is bad for your dog. Do not let your dog drink ocean water, no matter how much he begs. The high salt content can quickly cause dehydration. Ocean water also contains bacteria and pollutants not safe for your dog, and some dogs will vomit after only a mouthful of beach water.
7. Protect your dog’s paws. If the sand is too hot for you to walk on, it is also too hot for your dog. Carry him to cooler sand down by the water or put him in dog shoes.
8. Prevent sunburn by protecting your dog’s delicate skin with a sunblock designed for dogs or babies. Apply 30 minutes before going into the sun if your dog tends to burn or has pink skin or short, white hair. His ears and nose are most likely to burn.
9. Watch your dog closely for signs of overheating or other problems. If he develops glassy eyes, loss of balance, panting, weakness, vomiting, excessive salivation, restlessness, or other unusual symptoms, cool him down with clean drinking water and a cold shower. Seek immediate veterinary attention.
10. Rinse your dog off with clean water before you leave the beach to remove any pollutants, salt, and bacteria from the ocean water. These substances will irritate your dog’s skin, dry out his coat, and could make him sick. Make sure to clean his ears and eyes.
11. Clean up after your dog before you leave the beach. Do not leave waste on the beach where other animals or children may come into contact with it. Leaving behind waste may also result in closure of your beach, depending on local laws.
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