Beach trips can be a fun bonding activity for you and your dog. Your dog will have lots of fun exploring, playing in the sand, and swimming. Get prepared for the sun with the following 10 tips for keeping your dog safe on the beach:
- Check beach restrictions
Before setting out, it pays check that you will actually be allowed on the beach with your dog. Certain beaches have dog restrictions – particularly in the summertime. Check with your local council.
- Keep vaccines and ID tags current
Make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccinations and has been given parasite prevention. There could be hidden parasites lurking in the sand or other dogs could be harbouring disease. Puppies should not be taken to the beach before they have had their complete set of vaccinations including the rabies vaccine.
Dogs should wear their collar and attached identification tags with current contact information at all times. In case your dog is particularly boisterous and at risk of losing their collar, consider permanent microchip identification.
- Bring a first aid kit
Cuts and scrapes are common injuries at the beach. Have a first aid kit on hand containing wound care and bandaging materials such as wound disinfectant, gauze rolls, non-stick bandages, and cohesive wrap. Educate yourself on how to control excessive bleeding and apply temporary bandages until you can seek veterinary attention.
- Train your dog
Always supervise your dog at the beach. Even if your dog is perfectly trained, you do not know how other dogs will respond. Train your dog to obey basic obedience commands. Dogs that do not respond when called should be kept on a leash at all times. You should always be prepared to intercept your dog in case of a dangerous situation.
- Be sun safe
Dogs with short coats, white fur, and pink skin are particularly prone to sunburn at the beach. Sunburn can be avoided by applying a veterinary formulated sunblock to exposed areas such as the belly, ears, and nose. Sunblock should be applied 30 minutes prior to sun exposure for maximum effectiveness.
Another sun concern is heat stroke. Signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, hyper-salivation, lack of coordination, vomiting, diarrhoea, and collapse. Heat stroke can be avoided by finding your dog a shady spot for rest, providing fresh water, and limiting exercise on particularly hot days.
- Watch for hidden dangers in the sand
Care should be taken with dogs running on sand. Sand temperature on excessively hot days can cause burns on delicate paws. Hidden hazards such as sharp rocks, shells, broken glass, fishhooks, or garbage can cause cuts and scrapes. Keep an eye out for dangerous objects to avoid injury.
Running on sand is a more strenuous activity than running on grass so it is also important to watch for over-exhaustion. It may be necessary to give your dog time to adjust to the new substrate and limit exercise.
- Encourage safe swimming
Swimming can be a fun exercise for your dog. The best areas for swimming are ones with calm, stagnant water – away from big waves, power boats, jet skiers, and surfers. Start your dog off in shallow water until they are comfortable enough to swim to the deeper areas themselves. Life vests are recommended if swimming in deep or unpredictable waters and can help your dog feel more confident with floating in the water. Always be ready to assist your dog if necessary.
Caution should be taken when swimming with elderly or arthritic pets. Swimming is a good low-impact exercise for pets with joint issues and can help to improve range of motion, however swimming in cold water can further irritate arthritic joint pain. Elderly and arthritic pets should be limited to swimming in warm shallow water.
- Discourage salt water consumption
At the beach, your dog may be tempted to drink sea water. Drinking too much salt water can cause dehydration, along with vomiting and diarrhoea. Elderly, young, or ill dogs have the least ability for the body to process large amounts of salt. Discourage your dog from drinking too much salty water and offer plenty of fresh water instead.
- Rinse your dog with fresh water
You should always rinse your dog off with fresh water after a day at the beach. Deposits of salt water, ocean minerals, and sand can cause irritation to your dog’s coat and skin. Make sure to towel dry your dog afterwards to avoid hypothermia. Ear canals should be wiped out with a small cloth or towel to prevent the development of ear infections (due to excess moisture). Finally, take a moment to check your dog over for any scrapes or injuries.
- Clean up after your dog
Be a considerate beachgoer and clean up after your dog. Most public beaches have garbage bins for waste and may even provide doggie poop bags. Removing your dog’s waste helps to maintain a pleasant environment and limits the possible spread of any infection to other dogs.
Always keep a close eye on your dog when at the beach, be sun smart, and take care when swimming in the ocean. Having a safe and successful outing allows you to return for many more fun beach trips with your dog.