There are few leisure activities that are as fulfilling as taking a trip to the beach with your canine friend. While it’s great fun, you have to take certain steps to ensure that your dog is safe while you’re having a great time. Here are some suggestions you’ll do well to bear in mind…
Get your dog a life vest
This can make a big difference between life and death. Yes, you need one even if your doggie pal is a good swimmer. First, it serves as insurance if something goes wrong and it affords your dog the luxury of playing for longer in the water without much exertion.
The most practical type of life vest to go for is one that has a handle. It makes it a lot easier to pull a dog out of danger.
Check tide times before you visit the beach
Tide charts are easy to find online. Therefore, do yourself a favor and go when the tide is right. If you go when the tide is too high, you’ll either ruin much of the fun or run a big risk letting your dog swim. Riptides, strong waves and current can exhaust a dog faster than you might want to believe and that is a dangerous situation for your dog to be in.
Avoid swimming in cold water
This applies if your dog has arthritis or any other joint-related health condition. While your dog won’t complain while the fun lasts, you’ll see the negative impact the next day. Your dog can swim in areas that have warmer water – Places like shallow water and bays.
Ensure your dog doesn’t get out of his depth swimming
First, note that NOT all dog breeds are natural swimmers. Breeds such as Bulldogs (and other barrel-chested and flat-nosed breeds) have a hard time swimming while breeds like Pugs and Corgis don’t swim at all. And even when they are natural swimmers, don’t allow your dog go swimming out of his depth. It’s also an excellent idea to always be in the rescue mode when your dog is out swimming however good he is at it.
Apply the right sunscreen
Every right-thinking person takes precautions against sunburn when they go to the beach. Now your dog needs protection too especially if it’s a breed that has pronounced bald areas or if he has just had summer haircuts or is shaved. That said; even if yours is furry; his nose and ears need a sunscreen.
Go for special sunscreens for dogs. They are void of ingredients that might cause your dog any harm. In particular, don’t use any sunscreen that contains zinc because it can be toxic to dogs if they ingest it. Also, avoid any sunscreen that contains fragrances.
For hairless breeds, you can take the added precaution of putting a T-shirt on him for as long as he is exposed to the sun.
Don’t let your dog drink seawater
Dogs don’t mind drinking seawater but you should keep them from it because it can do them much harm (dehydration, diarrhea and vomiting). Make sure you bring more packs of fresh, cool water than you think you need and don’t forget to add a collapsible water dish to make it easier for your dog to drink.
Make sure your dog wears a collar/good ID tag
What happens if your dog takes off for whatever reason? A good ID tag or any other recommended identification system will make it easier for you to reunite with your furry friend.
Take precautions against heat stroke and hypothermia
Temperature extremes can happen on some beaches. So you need to watch out for signs that indicate a heat stroke or hypothermia.
Rapid panting, a bright red tongue, thick (sticky) saliva, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea are all symptoms of a heat stroke. If you suspect this, ensure your dog is taken to a shade where you apply cool water (NOT cold water, please) over his body to reduce his temperature. You can also apply cool towels and ice packs on your dog’s chest, neck and head only. You can also allow your dog lick ice cubes or drink small amounts of cool water. But without fail, take him to a vet as fast as possible.
Also watch out for hypothermia which is characterized by shivering, lethargy, weakness, muscle stiffness, fixed and dilated pupils and difficulty breathing. If you suspect this, take your dog into a shade and cover him with warm blankets or towels. If he continues in that state, take him to the nearest vet.
Ensure you have a shade of retreats and breaks
Summer temperatures can become a threat to your dog’s health. This is why it’s important to have a shade where your furry friend can relax away from the harsh elements.
If you can, pack a beach umbrella. A good tree with good foliage can also serve as well.
Use a good insect repellent
While this might NOT be a problem in all beaches, those with grassy dunes might harbor ticks. So a good insect repellent would keep your dog free from these pests.
Supervise your dog always
While dog-friendly beaches have off-leash laws you should abide by, it’s in your best interest to also ensure the following:
- That your dog is always within sight. You need to monitor what he’s doing and be sure that he isn’t being a nuisance or being exposed to any threats
- That you never allow your dog off leash at the beach UNLESS you are sure he has mastered the recall command. Until then, have him on a long leash
Keep those paws protected
You might NOT know how uncomfortably hot the sand is while you are wearing sandals or flip-flops. If you can’t keep the back of your hand on the sand for up to five seconds, then it’s too hot for your doggie friend. Get your dog boots – There are a number of different options out there.
Apart from the hot sand, there are other potential perils like fish hooks, coral, sharp rocks, broken glass and shells that can cause lacerations. A good set of doggie boots will protect your pet from them all.
Deal with salt water and sand the right way
Make sure you clean salt water and sand from your dog’s paws with a fresh water rinse. You can do this before leaving the beach if you have enough fresh water or immediately you get home. This is important because salt water can be irritating and make those paws dry out.
If your dog likes digging, you need to have fresh water handy to wash off his sand-covered face. You’ll be asking for trouble if you let your dog attempt to clean his face with paws that are filled with sand mixed with salt water.
Don’t leave your First Aid Kit at home
You’ve taken all the necessary precautions but still, your dog might need quick first aid. Don’t leave without your kit. It could be the difference between a minor incident and a major problem.