Whether you’re boating, swimming, dock diving or just sailing a Frisbee on the beach, chances are, your dog wants to share in the fun. And why not? With a few precautions to help keep your dog safe, everyone can get their paws wet at the beach:
Check the water conditions — When your dog plunges in the water, try to keep them in calm waters, away from speedboats, swift currents, riptides and undertows. Never leave pets at the beach unsupervised in the water.
Don’t forget the life jackets — Although some might assume the dog paddle comes naturally to all dogs, it’s just not the case. Some breeds, especially those with flat faces, barrel chests and short legs, such as bulldogs and pugs, can have a hard time staying afloat. A life jacket with a top handle for lifting dogs out of the water could be a life saver.
Make sure ID tags are current — The roar of a boat engine or an unexpected thunderstorm can spook some dogs and send them running. Always make sure his or her ID tag contains your current contact information. Same goes for their microchip.
Keep it cool — You’d never sit in the sun while sporting a fur coat, but that’s essentially what your dog is doing. Many breeds, especially brachycephalic (flat-nosed) dogs, can easily succumb to heatstroke. Make sure to provide plenty of shade and fresh water. If your dog begins panting excessively, soak a towel in cool water and put it next to the skin, or take your dog to an air-conditioned spot to cool off.
Bring plenty of fresh water — If you wouldn’t drink the water in oceans, lakes and rivers, your dog shouldn’t either. Drinking too much salt water can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration in dogs (not a fun car ride home from the beach). Lakes, ponds and streams can also contain blue-green algae, which can be deadly to dogs, as well as bacteria and protozoa that can upset the digestive tract. Avoid the problem by bringing a collapsible bowl and plenty of fresh drinking water for your dog.
Avoid sunburns — Hairless breeds and dogs with thin, white coats can be prone to sunburns, and like people, at risk for skin cancer. Even dogs with dark coats can burn in places where the skin is exposed, like the nose, ears and belly. Look for a fragrance-free pet sunscreen or a sunblock with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB barriers. Once applied, prevent your dog from licking at it until it soaks in.
Protect the paws — Anyone who’s ever walked barefoot on hot sand knows how unforgiving it can be for tender feet. And sand, both in the water and out of it, can hide broken glass, fish hooks, shell shards and other dangerous objects. Help keep your dog’s paws safe with canine beach shoes.
Rinse your dog’s coat — At the end of the day, shower off your dog with fresh water to eliminate the sand, salt, bacteria or seaweed caught in his or her hair. Then it’s time to relax on your beach towel and share a slice of watermelon (with the seeds removed, of course) with your exhausted, but happy, canine pal.
The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.