Beach Safety 101: How to keep your dog safe at the beach

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By Guest Blogger Jeffery Roberts

Dog-friendly beaches offer a great opportunity to have some extra fun with your canine friend. They provide an area for playing with you and with other dogs, and are especially great if your dog loves to swim. But, before you enjoy the beach, you should take some precautions for your pet’s safety, and keep the following things in mind:

Not all dogs can swim.

It may be called the doggy paddle, but not all dogs are able to swim. If you are unsure if your dog swims, you may want to test the water, so to speak, at a lake or other spot that offers calm water. Smooth water also offers a good opportunity for your dog to improve his swimming skills. Unseasoned swimmers can find ocean waves difficult to handle.

Dogs may not know when they are too tired to swim.

 Even dogs that can swim tire easily when swimming in ocean waves. Especially if your dog is swimming after a ball or stick, she may not realize how tired she is until she’s too far out. Dogs were not meant to swim long distances, so whatever the amount of swimming activity, it is good to be mindful of how tired they may be. For this reason, you should watch how much your dog is swimming and take her out of the water for breaks. Dogs should also not be encouraged to dive for toys in the ocean.

Have your dog wear a life vest.

 Believe it or not, they do make life vests for dogs. A life vest is a great safety precaution that can help keep your dog afloat if he does tire out, or if he gets carried further into the water by a wave. It’s what you would do for a small child, so why not your canine friend? Look for life vests with added buoyancy at the neck to keep your dog’s head above water. Life Vests with handles, so you can easily pull your dog out of the water if needed, are also recommended.

Make sure you have fresh water available.

 Drinking salt water is not good for dogs, just as it is not recommended for humans. Make sure that your dog is not taking in too much water if she is retrieving objects for you. Some dogs even like to drink ocean water and may need extra supervision. Keep plenty of fresh water available to her so that she can stay hydrated.

Provide sun protection.

 While dogs are protected by their fur, they can still get sunburn on sensitive areas such as their ears or nose. Some brands make sunscreen for dogs, although it is likely to get washed off quickly if your dog is a swimmer! Another great option is to have shelter available to provide shade for you and your pet.

Watch the paws.

 Areas with broken shells can cut your pet’s paw just like a human foot. Sand on the beach can also be too hot for sensitive paw pads. Stay mindful of what your pet is walking on, both in the water and out.

Keep an eye out for food scraps.

 It’s unfortunate, but a lot of people leave a mess at the beach. Keep an eye out for uneaten human food, particularly cooked bones from things like chicken wings, and make sure that your dog does not consume them. Avoid areas where people fish because it is likely you dog will find any abandoned hooks that are baited before you do.

Wash the beach off.

 At the end of your day at the beach, be sure to rinse the salt water and sand off of your pet. Not only will that sand end up all over your floor at home, but the salt water can be a skin irritant once dried. Ocean water is also full of microorganisms that your dog is better off without.

Conclusion

 By being mindful and taking some extra precautions, it is entirely possible to enjoy a day at the beach with your dog safely. Take note of their swimming ability, make sure they don’t tire themselves out, and protect them from too much sun. Ultimately, if you supervise your dog at the beach the same way you would a small child, your dog will be as safe as can be!

Jeffery Roberts

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 2 cats, a bird and a dog named Lucy.