Before you pack up your pooch and head to the beach, make sure you and your pup are ready for a full day of adventures. For most dogs, getting to run around in the sand, splash into the waves, and fetch balls out of the water is the best doggone day ever! Here are some tips to ensure that you and your dog have a fun, memorable and safe beach day experience.
Make Sure Feet and Paws are Welcome
- Always check the beaches policies about having dogs present on the beach.
- Some beaches may prohibit them entirely.
- Many beaches that do allow dogs typically have certain times of the year and/or times of the day that dogs are allowed.
Doggie Beach Essentials
Before heading out, be sure to pack for your pooch. Essentials include:
- Walking Treat Pouch or Bag (filled with treats, of course)
- Extra towels
- Outdoor water bowl and cool fresh water
- Dog Leash
- Umbrella or Outdoor Pup Tent (make sure your pup has shade)
- Outdoor Dog Cooling Mat
- Dog Life Jacket
- Dog Sunscreen (yes, they actually make sunscreen specifically made for dogs)
- Spritz Bottle (to cool off your pup)
- Water Toys (for fetching or tug-o-war)
- Doggie Shampoo (in case the beach has outdoor showers)
- Doggie Poop Bags
To Leash or Not to Leash
It's important to find out whether the beach requires your fur-baby to be on leash or is allowed to go off leash. ALWAYS bring a long leash no matter what and find out ahead of time if there will be an area where a leash isn't necessary.
- If they can be off leash, be 100% sure your dog is under your control and will listen to your commands.
- There are many distractions at the beach including kids, birds, exposed food, toys and sometimes little crabs on the beach.
- Some people on the beach (many adults easily more frightened than children) may be less dog-friendly than others, so be mindful of whom your dog might be approaching to avoid any sort of snafu.
- Similarly, there will likely be other dogs off-leash as well. So careful monitoring is necessary to make sure everyone plays nice.
- Make sure you have a treat pouch on hand and remember to reward your pup for good behaviors and listening.
Keep a Close Watch
Never leave your dog unattended. Even the most well-trained dog can get distracted and decide to chase a seagull or sniff around in someone's cooler.
- Pay extra special attention to your surroundings and any potential situations that may cause your dog to wander or run off.
- If you feel like the beach is getting too crowded or rowdy, it may be a good time to put your pup back on leash.
- Watch out for strong currents and riptides, which can take you both out to sea. Even the best swimmer can be in danger when seas are rough.
- Don’t let your dog drink ocean water. It can make them sick. Bring plenty of fresh water and a travel bowl with you to keep them hydrated.
- Keep your pooch away from fish that have washed onto the shore. They may smell great to them, but it’ll make them sick.
Water Dog or Not So Much?
If this is the first time your dog will be introduced to the water, be sure you introduce them gradually - at their pace in a calm shallow area. Even if your dog has gone swimming in a pool or lake, the beach waves and undercurrent can be overwhelming at first.
- When you bring your pup to the water, if they aren’t diving right in, take it slow.
- Don't force your dog to go in or pull them in by the leash.
- Your pup may feel more comfortable if you head in first and call him to you.
- For smaller dogs, wearing a life vest is a good idea. They could easily be pulled of course by the current.
- If you're nervous or unsure, bringing along a dog life vest would be a safe good idea. It’s better for them to start out with a doggie life vest on and gain swimming confidence first.
- Keep your dog on a leash while they learn.
- Start at the edge of the water and stay as long as they enjoy it.
- When your dog begins to paddle with their front legs, lift their hind legs to show them how to float.
Quick Safety Checks
- Make sure your dog is currently vaccinated and is wearing a proper Pet ID tag.
- Have your vet's number saved just in case something happens.
- Check the weather forecast, tide times, water temp and beach reports for jellyfish, stingrays, or other potential dangers.
- It's also a really good idea to set a time limit for your beach trip.
- Unless you bring a cool shaded place for them to rest, like a pet tent, a couple hours might be just the right amount of time at the beach, depending on your dog's activity level.
- Learn canine CPR, Mouth-to-nose resuscitation and chest compressions could save a dog’s life in an emergency.
Be Wary of Temperature Extremes
Depending on where you are in the country, summer at the beach can bring about two extremes: heat from the sun and a cold, cold ocean. Pay attention to how your dog is acting and responding throughout the day, because there is a real potential for either heat stroke or hypothermia.
- Some signs of heat stroke in a dog include rapid panting, bright red tongue, thick saliva, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea.If you think that your dog has heat stroke, move them into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water all over their body to gradually lower their temperature. Apply ice packs or cool towels to your dog’s head, neck and chest only. Allow the pup to drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Then take them to the nearest vet.
- Some signs of hypothermia in a dog include lethargy, weakness, shivering, muscle stiffness, difficulty breathing, fixed and dilated pupils. If you think that your dog has hypothermia, wrap your dog in towels or blankets that have been warmed by the sun, let water bottles warm up in the sun and then apply the warm water to your dog to bring their body temperature back up. Then take them to the nearest vet.
We always wish that our dogs can tell us when they're in pain or not feeling good. The above lists are certainly not all-inclusive, so if you notice anything out of the ordinary with your dog's behavior, get them out of the elements immediately.
After a Long Day on The Beach
- Rinse them off after they have been in the water. Seawater minerals, salt, chlorine, algae, and pollution can irritate or damage their skin and fur. A quick shampoo will wash away any irritants and calm your dog’s skin.
- Always remove their flea collar before they swim. Water can wash off its active ingredients.
- Dry your dog’s ears completely to prevent an infection.
- Apply a nose and paw balm on your pup’s paw pads. This will soothe any irritation from playing in the hot sand.
Whether you're going on a trip or a stay-cation, finding a beach where you can bring your dog this summer will be a great bonding experience for your dog and your family. Get out there and soak up that fresh sea air - your pooch will love the fun and excitement of a great beach adventure!