All Things Dog

Sand, Salt Water, and Your Dog

One of the best ways to celebrate the warmer weather is to head to the beach for some sun, sand, and surf. Many of our canine companions also enjoy frolicking in the waves and dunes—a fun day of swimming, splashing, digging, and fetching.

However, before heading out to the beach with your pooch, there are a few important things to remember—and pack—to make your sun-drenched day as enjoyable and safe as possible.

Is the beach "dog friendly?" Check with the municipality to make sure your beach destination allows dogs. And if it does, does it have a leash requirement? If you have visions of your pooch running free up and down the beach, you may have to find another beach.

First time at the beach? Many dogs totally love the beach. These fun-loving pets like the way the sand feels under the paws, and they greet the surf with a full-throttle run toward the waves. Some dogs, however, have the opposite reaction. If your dog has never been to the beach before, take it slow and easy. Make sure he's comfortable with the texture of the sand. And never force a dog into the water if he doesn't like it or refuses to go in. Not all dogs enjoy feeling soggy or wet.

Is the sand too hot? When you think of all the punishing pounding your dog's paws contend with every day, you may get the impression that they are indestructible. But paws are actually sensitive, and the intense heat of the sand on a summer day may be too much for your dog. If the sand feels too hot for your bare feet, it may be too hot for your dog, too.

Did you pack fresh water and munchies? All that running around, swimming, and romping will make your dog thirsty and hungry. Fresh water is very important because you don’t want your pet to drink the ocean or lake water. Salt water can make him very ill and lake water may contain tummy-upsetting bacteria and parasites. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of energy, and loss of appetite. If your dog presents with any of those symptoms after a day at the beach, take him to your veterinarian quickly.

Is the water safe for swimming? Ocean beaches can have strong and sudden currents that can drag a dog far from shore. And some shallow ocean areas are home to stinging jellyfish, sharks, or other hazardous aquatic organisms. Check with the local authorities or on-duty lifeguards to make sure the beach is calm and safe on the day of your visit.

Does the beach have a shower? Ocean water has been known to dry out a dog’s coat and, in some cases, to irritate the skin. If the beach has a freshwater shower, be sure to spritz your dog before leaving. And once you get home, give him a more thorough bath.

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