The days of summer are upon us, and one of the most fun ways to take advantage of the weather with your dog is to head to the beach. Sand, surf, and sunshine can make the day a blast, but they also present some dangers that you should plan for. Even if your dog is friendly, a good swimmer, and obedient to your commands, things can still go wrong very quickly. Here are ten safety tips that will help you make your beach visit with your dog fun and accident-free.
1. Socialization Is Key
If you ever plan on being in off-leash situations with your dog while you’re in public, you absolutely need to make sure your pup is well behaved with other people and animals. Even among friendly dogs, misunderstandings can happen. Play can get too aggressive. There can be fights over toys. You never know what could go wrong at the beach. If your dog hasn’t had proper socialization training, you must keep your dog on a leash in public, even if it is a location where dogs are allowed to be off-leash.
2. Pick The Right Beach
Before you plan your trip, make sure to check out the beach. Obviously, you’ll want a beach that allows dogs, but you should also read online reviews and visit the beach in person without your dog first. Make sure it is reasonably clean. If crowds make your dog nervous, pick a less crowded beach and visit at a time when it is not likely to be so crowded. Find out if the beach is a good fit for your pooch before you show up with them.
3. Even Good Swimmers Need Life Jackets
Life jackets are so important, even for dogs that are great swimmers. Undercurrents can be unpredictable, and if your dog gets pulled away from shore, they may not have the strength to swim back. Dogs may also get tired, lost, or confused and struggle to swim. Get a brightly-colored life jacket that has good reviews online so your dog is visible and not at risk for going under the waves.
4. Have A Cool-Off Zone
It is important for your dog to have an area where there is shade, water, and ways to cool down. Heat stroke and dehydration can sneak up, even when dogs are spending time in the cool water. Bring a bowl and fresh water for your dog so they have something clean to drink. Have towels that you can get wet and place on your dog if they need to cool off quickly. You may even want to bring a cooler with some ice packs just in case. Make sure your pup takes breaks once in a while, even if it doesn’t seem like they’re tired or overheated. When pups are having fun, they don’t necessarily realize how hot and tired they are, and that can be very dangerous.
5. Sunscreen For Dogs
Dogs’ fur protects them from some sunburns, but even canines benefit from sunscreen. Dogs that are losing hair, have thin hair, or have lighter-colored coats are more at risk, especially if they spend a significant amount of time outside. Ask your veterinarian about sunscreens for dogs so that you can make a decision about which kind is best for your pup together. Do NOT put human sunscreen on your dog, and avoid any sunscreens that have zinc oxide, which can be toxic to canines if ingested. Apply sunscreen to areas where fur is thin, such as the snout, face, and ears. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions.
6. Always Supervise And Check In
Even if dogs seem safe and look like they’re having a good time, you need to be constantly vigilant while they are off-leash. Watch for fights with other dogs, signs of heat stroke and dehydration, and hypothermia, which can happen even in summer if dogs spend too much time in cold water. Check on your dog frequently. Examine their paws for any signs of wounds, as there are many sharp objects that could be on the beach. Until your dog’s collar or harness is connected to their leash again, your eyes should be on them.
7. Pick The Right Toys
Some veterinarians suggest that tennis balls can contribute to dogs swallowing sand, which can cause gastrointestinal blockages. Instead of tennis balls, cloth toys, or other items that might collect sand more easily, stick to rubber balls, frisbees, and other toys that don’t collect sand as easily. Your dog will probably still swallow some sand–who doesn’t at the beach?–but it is less likely to be enough to cause problems.
8. Bring A Leash, Towel, First-Aid Kit, And Necessary Supplies
You need to have a leash. If there is an emergency or incident, you need a way to get your dog under control and move them to safety. Towels are also necessary, as your dog’s fur can trap moisture that turns into steam and overheats their body. Dry your dog once they are out of the water. You should have a first-aid kit for minor injuries and any other supplies that you might need for the day, which may include medication, food, and extra water among other things.
9. Update Tags, Microchips, And Any Other ID
If the worst should happen and your dog runs off or gets lost, the best way for them to get back home is if they have identification. Make sure their collar tags are up-to-date, as well as their microchip information and any other identification they might have. Make sure you have a recent photo of them. It is always important to keep this info updated, but it is especially important if they are going to be in an off-leash environment.
10. Wash Up Afterward
Untreated bodies of water can be full of harmful bacteria, parasites, chemicals, and toxic substances that can hurt your dog. It is important that you at least rinse off quickly after a beach visit if you can and bathe more thoroughly after you get home. You should especially clean the ears, paws, and anywhere where there are folds in the skin, as these are the places parasites and bacteria like to hide the most. This can reduce the chances of your dog getting sick from something that they pick up from their day of fun.
What other safety tips do you have for dog visits to the beach? How do you prepare your dog for fun in the sun? Let us know in the comments below!