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Lifestyle

These tips will help keep your dog safe at the beach

Here’s a packing list for your dog’s beach day, too.

A beach day should be full of relaxation and fun, and bringing your pup along should be seamless (whether it's their first time or they're a qualified beach bum). But before packing their beach bag, you'll want to ensure the shore is a safe place for your pup. 

“Pet parents should ensure that the weather, including the temperature, waves and wind, will be ideal for a beach day with their dog,” Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, says. “Pet parents can discuss the best conditions for a beach day with their veterinarians based on their dog's age, breed and health status.”

Pups that don’t like swimming, being in public places or don’t understand basic behavior commands may not enjoy the beach as much as you, Dr. McCullough explains. Some dogs may not be physically comfortable at the beach and may have a hard time cooling down, like brachycephalic breeds (with flat faces), overweight pups or those with heavy coats, like huskies, she adds. 

How can I prepare for a beach day with my dog?

If your veterinarian gives you the OK to bring your pup along, check to see if they're even welcome at the beach before heading over. The beach you're going to should be dog friendly — depending on the location, certain days or times may be off-limits for pets. It's also a good idea to double-check if the beach requires special permits or for your dog to be leashed. 

Map out the closest veterinary emergency hospital, too, Dr. McCullough recommends. If there’s an emergency while you’re at the beach, you’ll want to be able to act fast. 

What should I bring to the beach for my dog? 

This Dr. McCullough-approved packing list will ensure you have any necessary supplies to make your dog comfortable on the beach: 

  • Enough fresh water (it helps to pack their water bottle, too)
  • A beach umbrella (if you don’t have one, make sure there are shaded areas nearby)
  • Outdoor dog blanket or bed
  • Towels
  • A dog life vest
  • Poop bags
  • Food 
  • Treats
  • Waterproof toys
  • Dog booties (for hot sand)
  • Your dog’s pair of sunglasses
  • A first aid kit

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Is it safe for dogs to swim in the ocean?

“In general, pups can swim in the ocean, but pet parents should be mindful of their dog’s swimming ability, energy level and fitness — plus the possibility of their pet ingesting salt water,” Dr. McCullough explains. “Pet parents should also pay attention to the water conditions, including rough waves and water temperature.”

If your dog doesn't love swimming, they may enjoy playing a game of fetch near the water or wading in the shallow areas, she adds. So don't fret if they don't like swimming. You can also take them for strolls on the beach or let them relax in the sun (as long as they're not too hot). 

What dog-related health risks should I pay attention to while at the beach?

Besides making sure the temperature isn’t too hot for your dog, Dr. McCullough explains that you should also be aware of the following beach-related health risks and their symptoms: 

Salt toxicity 

If your pup ingests too much salt water, they can experience salt toxicity. The symptoms of this condition are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, incoordination, tremors and seizures. Try to discourage your pup from drinking salt water, and make sure you pack enough fresh water for them.

Heatstroke

Look out for excessive drooling, disorientation, collapse, seizures and difficulty breathing, Dr. McCullough says. You can help prevent heatstroke by monitoring your pup while outside, ensuring they have enough fresh water and shade and keeping them indoors on hot days (and during the hottest part of the day). 

Drowning

Monitor your pup while swimming in the water or even when they’re near it to prevent drowning. 

Burned paw pads

If your dog has burned their paw pads, they’ll often look ulcerated or like they’re in pain. “This can be prevented by keeping dogs inside and off of the sand on hot days and during the hottest time of the day,” she adds. “If your dog will tolerate booties, these may help.”

Gastrointestinal blockage

Overeating sand can cause gastrointestinal blockage in dogs, which usually appears as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain and decreased appetite. Try to curb your dog's sand-eating habits while at the beach to avoid this condition. 

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.

Photo by Damian Barczak on Unsplash

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