Wellness Tips

Taking your dog to the beach? Here are some dangers you should know

Visiting the beach is a beloved summer pastime – but for beachgoers with dogs there are also many dangers to be aware of.

Some people love to play in the sand, others may find it coarse and irritating. It gets everywhere, but it’s important to make sure it doesn’t get into a dog’s stomach. They may ingest it by accident through digging or repeatedly picking up balls or toys covered in sand.

If a dog swallows enough sand it can cause a blockage in the intestine, called sand impaction. Signs of this serious condition, which requires urgent veterinary treatment, include vomiting, dehydration and abdominal pain.

Beware of the heat

Be aware of high temperatures and the temperature of the sand. If it’s too hot for a person to walk barefoot, it’s also too hot for animals. The safest time to bring a pet to the beach is in the morning or evening once it has cooled off.

Running on the sand takes far more energy than running on grass or flat surfaces, particularly when it’s very hot outside, so be on the lookout for signs of overexertion in order to avoid risks such as heat stroke.

Dog sitting on the beach near the water (credit: PICKPIK)

Sun, sand, and sea

Dogs can also suffer sunburn just like humans, especially breeds with short hair or white hair. Fortunately, there are sunscreens specifically made for dogs to help keep them safe.

It’s important to make sure dogs don’t eat sea creatures that have been washed up on the beach such as dead fish as they may contain potentially deadly toxins. They also should not drink seawater as it can make them very sick due to the salt, bacteria, and parasites in the water.

Jellyfish, seashells, fish hooks, and beach toys, are all likely to be found on the beach, and dogs are likely to be intrigued by them without realizing they are dangerous. Be sure to keep them away from foreign objects on the beach.

Swimming is not a given

Don’t assume that all dogs can swim, they have to learn just like humans. Some breeds are naturally strong swimmers, but other breeds, such as corgis and pugs, are not. If a dog does not yet know how to swim, the beach is not the best place to teach them. It’s safer to teach them in a small, contained area such as a pool.

Even dogs that are strong swimmers are still at risk of being swept under by large rolling waves, especially on windy days when the waves are high. Dogs shouldn’t venture too far out to sea as waves and currents can quickly exhaust them. Buying a lifejacket for dogs, even if they can swim, gives them an extra layer of protection in the water.

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