Bringing your dog to the beach can be a great day of fun for both you and your pet. Many beaches are pet friendly, which means both you and your dog can enjoy the ocean. However, before you dive in, take these things into consideration to keep your furry friend safe!
Make sure your dog is a capable swimmer
Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs can swim! Some breeds, like Bulldogs and Dachshunds, do not generally swim at all. They may like coming to the beach with you, but keep them leashed to avoid any unfortunate water incidents. Breeds such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers are known for their prowess in the water and make better beach pets. You should still remain aware that every dog is different—just because you have a water-loving breed does not necessarily mean that your dog will be a capable swimmer.
It is best to get your dog’s paws wet, so to speak, in a body of water that’s calmer than the ocean. If your dog is not used to swimming, or if you have not taken him yet, getting him acclimated to water without waves is important. Once they seem comfortable in lake or pond water and can swim short distances easily, you can bring them to the ocean to test the waves!
Try a life vest
Even great swimmers can tire out in the ocean, especially at beaches with lots of waves. For this reason, you may want to invest in a doggy life vest. This will help ensure that your pet is secure even if they get tired in the water. A vest will help your pet keep their head above the surface if they get into trouble, although you still need to keep an eye on them. If your pet shows signs of tiring, get them out of the water sooner rather than later.
Be wary of too much water play time
If your dog loves to play in the water, and especially if they love to fetch, be aware that they can become waterlogged from swallowing too much water, or suffer from muscular injuries like limber tail. In limber tail, the muscles at the base of the tail, which is used sort of like a rudder while swimming, seize up, causing the tail to go limp. If your dog consumes too much salt water at the beach, it can commonly lead to diarrhea. In worse cases, the salt can lead to dehydration, vomiting, and seizures.
Protect your pet from the sun
While your dog’s fur does provide some sun protection, they still need to be careful in the beach sunlight—just like you do. The skin around a dog’s ears and nose can burn in the sun. Look for a pet-safe sunscreen and have your pup sit with you under an umbrella or other shelter periodically. Be sure to provide fresh water for them in a portable dog bowl to keep them from getting dehydrated in the summer heat!
Be mindful of those around you
Not all people are used to seeing dogs at the beach. Be aware of the comfort level of those around you so that they do not act out of fear and lash out at your pet. You should also keep an eye out for food scraps that you may not want your pooch to consume. Individuals who are not dog owners may not be as mindful of keeping them out of your pet’s reach.
There may be other hazards on the beach such as other dogs who may not be friendly, so keep an eye out. At some beaches, fishing is also permitted, so make sure that your dog is not playing anywhere near fishing line.
Ending your day at the beach
Once you have gotten home from the beach, be sure to rinse your pet’s coat. Sand and microorganisms in the ocean water can cause skin irritation. If your dog is prone to ear infections or tends to scratch his ears a lot, you may want to get drops from the vet to prevent infections post-swimming. These can be given to your dog once you are home.
For a fun and safe day at the beach, make sure that your dog is a comfortable swimmer and pick a great spot on the beach where you can stay aware of the people and other dogs in the area. Come prepared with shelter, fresh water, and anything else that your dog may need, and remember to keep an eye on him like you would any other member of your family!
Jeffery is a pet enthusiast and volunteer at his local pet shelter. His passion for animals started at an early age and through his work on becoming a veterinary student he understands and cares for pets of all species. Jeffery currently writes for The Happy Pooch and has two cats, a bird, and a dog named Lucy.