For most dogs, getting to run around in the sand, dip into the waves, and fetch balls out of the water is the best day ever. My dog Tucker’s tail has not stopped wagging because he knows beach season is upon us. Before you and your pooch head out to the beach, check out these tips to ensure your day is safe and fun.
Check with your local beaches before you pack up the dog, since not all beaches allow them. Depending on the time of year, some beaches allow dogs during the off-season, but summer is a different story. Call ahead or visit the beach’s website for information. It’s also important to find out whether they need to be on leash or if they can roam free. Bring a long leash no matter what. If they don’t need to have a leash, only let them be without it if you know for an absolute fact that they will respond to your voice commands.
Never leave your dog unattended. Even the most well-trained dog can get distracted; pay extra special attention to your surroundings and any potential situations that may cause your dog to wander or run off. Follow all of the rules set by the beach. You don’t want to be the reason that dogs aren’t allowed at that particular beach anymore.
If this is the first time your dog will be swimming, you may want to read up on his breed to know if he’ll enjoy it. For example, Shar-Peis tend to be afraid of water. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but finding out if swimming is characteristic of the breed will be a good indicator of how enthusiastic (or timid) your dog might be. When you bring the pup to the water, if he isn’t diving right in, take it slow. Don’t force your dog to go in. He may feel more comfortable if you head in first and call him. If you’re nervous or unsure, bringing a dog life vest might be a good call.
Depending on where you are in the country, summer at the beach can bring about two extremes: heat from the sun and cold from the ocean. Pay attention to how your dog is acting and responding, since there could be the potential of either heatstroke or hypothermia.
Some signs of heatstroke in a dog include rapid panting, a bright red tongue, thick and sticky saliva, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you think that your dog has heatstroke, move the pet into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water all over their body to gradually lower their temperature. Apply ice packs or cool towels to the pet’s head, neck, and chest only. Allow the pet to drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes, and then, if you’re still concerned, take him to the nearest vet.
Some signs of hypothermia in a dog include lethargy, weakness, shivering, muscle stiffness, difficulty breathing, and fixed and dilated pupils. If you think that your dog has hypothermia, wrap your dog in towels and blankets that have been warmed by the sun. If you brought extra fresh water in bottles and left them out in the sun, use this warm water to bring his body temperature back up. Then, if your dog has still not stopped shivering and has continued lethargy, bring him to the nearest vet.
As much as we wish, our dogs can’t tell us when they’re not feeling good. If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your dog’s behavior, get him out of the elements immediately.
A few ways to prevent heatstroke is to bring lots of fresh, cool water your dog can drink. A spray bottle with cool water to spray him down with will also help in temperature regulation. Also, since you can’t guarantee that you will have access to a shady area, bring an umbrella.
To make sure that hypothermia doesn’t strike, bring lots of towels you can warm him in and remove the excess cold salt water.
There are hundreds of beaches in the U.S. and Canada that allow dogs, but compared to the total number of beaches there are, it’s still a small percentage. Many beaches allowed dogs at one time, but careless owners put a stop to that. Follow these rules (in addition to the beach’s rules), to be sure that you can bring Fido back as many times as he likes.
Dog beach don’ts:
Dog beach dos:
Whether you’re going on a trip or a staycation, finding a beach where you can bring your dog this summer will be a great bonding experience for your dog and your family. Get out there and soak up the sun — your pooch will be forever grateful for all the fun!
About the Author: Kim Salerno is the President & Founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her popular web site, which was named best pet travel site by Consumer Reports, features pet friendly hotels and accommodations across the U.S. and Canada, along with other helpful pet travel resources. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy, and safe in their travels.