Festive season and beaches go hand in hand – and it’s normally a family affair. That includes the pets, as far as we’re concerned. Or some of them, anyway. Most pooches adore a trip to the beach to swim, play frisbee, and sunbathe with their humans. And we love having them there too! To keep your dog safe at the beach though, you’ve got to be aware of some potential hazards.
Keep your dog safe at the beach: common hazards
The last thing you need at Christmas is an emergency trip to the vet because your golden retriever took it upon himself to retrieve some jellyfish. When will they just stay true to their name and retrieve some gold, anyway?
Below are some of the key things to keep in mind for beach safety with your dog. Aside from jellyfish and the obvious hazard of your dog loving the beach and never wanting to come home, that is.
Heat-related health scares
Keeping your dog safe at the beach means being aware of the weather. If you’re planning on being at the beach for an entire day, check the forecast.
If it’ll be warm, you need to take some extra precautions for your dog. You’ll need to make sure you provide water and shade, for a start. Be prepared to leave if it gets too hot for your fur kid, too.
Dogs get heatstroke more easily than humans because they can only sweat around their paws and nose. This means they can’t cool their bodies as easily as we can. Check out these signs of heatstroke and be sure to monitor your dog carefully, as heatstroke can be fatal.
Be sure to bring along fresh, cool water to prevent dehydration. Salt water will obviously make dehydration worse and can make them sick too. So, pack a bowl and a big bottle of or two for your furry friend. Cold water will help them to stay cool in the sun too.
Finally, check the sand temperature. If you’ve ever walked along a beach on a hot day you’ll know that the sand can get unbearably hot sometimes. If it’s hurting your feet, your dogs’ paws are probably burning. Dog booties, maybe?
It goes without saying that keeping your dog safe in the ocean is one of the main priorities when taking a dog to the beach. Some dogs won’t actually go swimming, but if you’ve got a water-loving dog, you need to keep a close eye on them.
You’ll want to choose waters that are calm and quiet. That goes for waves and currents as well as general activity – jet skis, boats, and surfboards can sometimes be frightening for dogs!
Make sure before going to the beach that your dog can swim. Even if they hate water, even if you’re not planning on letting them get in the ocean. Accidents can happen, and your dog needs to be able to swim if you want to take them to the beach. We’d even suggest investing in a dog life jacket if you are planning on spending a lot of time in and around the water.
Dogs love to dig in the sand at the beach. Normally, that’s as far as it goes. Some of them get a bit of a taste for the sand though…and, yep, they eat it. But the most common cause of sand ingestion is dogs grabbing toys from the water. Often, they will accidentally scoop up and swallow some sand as they fetch the toy. In small amounts this isn’t a problem but a build up of sand can cause an impaction.
Initially they may seem fine, but sand impaction can cause blockages in the abdominal system. This will cause abdominal pain and needs urgent treatment to help pass the blockage. Signs and symptoms of sand impaction may include:
Keep an eye on your dog to make sure they aren’t eating sand, and be sure they’re drinking enough water – during and after the beach visit – to help keep the gut moving.
Sea creatures are for watching, not eating!
Some dogs eat anything. Beagle owners, we’re looking at you. A poisonous sea slug native to NZ might sound unappetising, but sometimes a dog just can’t say no. Your pup ingesting one of these could be fatal. They carry enough toxins to kill a human and if you spot one, you need to get your dog away ASAP.
Another common hazard when it comes to marine life at the beach is the infamous blue bottle. If your dog gets hold of one, they could experience painful stings, swelling, and breathing difficulties.
Be mindful of your dog trying to eat any washed up fish too. It could be a puffer fish, which dogs have been known to swallow whole. If your dog eats a puffer fish, they require urgent veterinary treatment. Get them there before any symptoms develop as these cases become deadly very quickly.
Remember that for all animal poisoning queries, you can give the Animal Poisons Helpline a ring on 0800 869 738. The service is free for all pet owners.
Microchips are a necessity
Should the worst happen and your dog takes off down the beach or gets lost, a microchip could be a lifesaver. If anyone finds your dog, they’re likely to take them to a vet or animal shelter. The first thing they’ll do is scan for a microchip. If your dog has one, you’ll be easily reunited. If not, the search will be much harder and longer.
Microchipping is quick and inexpensive, and PD Insurance’s wellness benefits even provide cover for it. Chipping is one of the best investments you’ll make for the safety of your pet, and for your own peace of mind.
Pet insurance is another one of those investments, by the way. See why we think pet insurance is worth every penny in our ’Is Pet Insurance Worth It’ blog.
Pet insurance can help if your beach trip goes wrong
Hopefully, your beach day will go smoothly and everyone will come home tired and happy. If there is an accident involving your dog though, pet insurance means that you can seek veterinary treatment without worrying about the cost. Hey, sometimes the little rascals just can’t help investigating the local marine life or snatching someone’s chocolate ice cream!
How to keep your dog safe at the beach – over to you
Have you got any tips on beach safety for our canine besties? Let us know over on our Facebook page.