Dogs and the Beach
By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
The beach is one of my very favorite places to go with my humans. I can
dig and run and swim for hours, and my humans seem to really enjoy it
too. To make sure everybody has the best time possible, there are some
precautions you should take. Be diligent and mindful of the beach’s
perils and unfortunate incidents won’t bring dark clouds on your beach
Before You Go
First, make sure dogs are allowed at your chosen destination. If we are allowed, make sure you know the rules—Do we have to stay on a leash? Are there only certain areas we can visit or certain times of day we are not allowed? Are there protected wildlife of which you must be mindful, like sea turtles or shorebirds?
Pack a bag of necessities. If your chosen beach does not have a shady spot for your dog to cool off from time to time, bring a beach umbrella. You will want to insist that your dog takes regular breaks in the shade so he does not get overheated. Also pack plenty of water and either a travel dog bowl (which you can roll up so it will take up next to no room in your beach bag) or a travel dog waterer. Be sure your dog has a waterproof collar and ID tag incase he runs off. Bring a sturdy, durable leash to restrain your dog. Most beaches that allow dogs require that they be leashed. Once your worn-in, trusty old leather leash gets wet and drug around in the sand, it might give up on you. Consider purchasing an extra nylon leash just for use at the beach that you know you can depend on. Don’t forget to bring a towel for your dog as well as yourself. We get cold after we get out of the water, especially when we’re riding home in an air conditioned car.
At the Beach
First thing when you get to the beach, if there is a life guard on duty, ask about beach hazards. Have there been a lot of jellyfish in the water? Are there problems with sea lice? Is the riptide especially strong? Also, many ocean beaches have a red flag system. When the red flags are up, the water is not safe for swimming and you and your dog should stay out of the water.
Is the sand too hot for your bare feet? Then it is too hot for your dog’s too. If your dog is small, you can carry him until you get to the cooler, wet sand. If he is too big to carry, consider purchasing some doggy shoes, like the Ruff Wear Bark’n Boots. Paw-wear will protect your dog from sharp and pointy objects hidden in the sand and underwater as well as from too-hot sand.
Check out the area around which you intend to set up your towel and beach umbrella. Stake a claim on some territory that is far from anyone fishing. It takes just one careless cast, or one wrong step for your dog to be hooked and need immediate medical attention. Also, look around for sharp rocks, glass, and sand spurs that could injure your dog’s paws, and dead critters washed up on shore that your dog might try to eat.
We can get sunburn just like people can. Especially if you have a dog with short hair, white fur, or pink skin, you should apply sun block 30 minutes before sun exposure. Don’t forget about his ears and nose—they are especially likely to get burned.
Do not let your dog drink beach water. Bacteria, salt, and pollutants in this water can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and even death.
Swimming and running in the sand are quite strenuous, especially for dogs who are not used to so much exercise. Make sure your dog drinks plenty of water and monitor him for signs of exhaustion such as loss of balance, glassy eyes, excessive salivation, heavy panting, vomiting, weakness and restlessness. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to get him in the shade and under a cold hose or shower. Concentrate the cold water on his head, paws, and groin area.
Leaving the Beach
When you leave the beach, be sure to pick up after your dog. Dog waste left on the beach can lead to contaminated water which can actually result in beach closures.
Before you go, rinse your dog off. Water at the beach contains salt, pollutants, and bacteria that can dry out his coat, irritate his skin, and even make him sick. Don’t forget to clean out his ears. The extra moisture, sand, and contaminants can lead to ear infections and hearing loss.
The beach is such a fun place to take your dog, and a perfect summertime activity as long as you make sure you do everything the safe way. Also, look into dog beaches in your area. These are great places for us to play with other dogs off our leashes!
Stay tuned for Monday’s article on getting your dog ready for your new baby.
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