Written by Anna Hollisey
What are the top five hazards for dogs on the beach? And what should you pack in your beach bag to protect your four-legged friend? Here’s all you need to know about beach safety for dogs!
A day at the beach can be wonderful for you and your dog. But are you aware of the hazards at your local shoreline? While we don’t want to frighten you, it’s time for a pep talk about beach safety!
It’s adorable when they’re leaping around in the spray. But letting your dog take big gulps from the ocean waves, or the nearby rock-pool, is a big no! Salty water causes vomiting and diarrhea – very quickly, in some cases. Dogs don’t need salt the way humans do and their bodies aren’t programmed to handle it. Too much salt-water can cause dehydration, kidney failure, or seizures.
To prevent this risk… Carry a water-bottle filled with fresh water and a collapsible dog bowl. Let your dog play in the ocean for short periods – then call them away and ensure that they drink fresh water.
Did you know that a dead jellyfish can still give a sting? Jellyfish, rays, and weever fish (which lurk on the sea-bed) are tempting discoveries for a curious dog. But their stings can cause irritation and after-effects. If your dog’s been bitten or stung, they’ll start to get itchy and lick themselves; vomiting and lethargy may also develop.
Around the coastline, your dog is at risk from other creatures too: ticks like to hang out in long grasses, particularly where wild animals roam, mosquitoes buzz around, and snakes come out on sand-dunes to sunbathe during the summer months.
To prevent this risk… Ensure that your dog is treated with tick and worming medication (and it’s all up to date). Check local information sites (or social media groups) to learn about the hazardous sea-creatures at your beach. Keep your dog fairly close at all times and scan the shoreline for jellyfish. If weever fish have been spotted, avoid the sea or put your dog in booties.
Coastal waters, lakes, and pools around the shoreline harbor dangerous blue-green algae. They breed and bloom during the warmer months and make the water poisonous for dogs, who can become very sick and even die. These toxic algae are not always blue-green and not always immediately obvious; basically, if the water’s an unusual color, get your dog out immediately.
To prevent this risk… Before you go, investigate online to see whether any local cases of blue-green algae have been reported. Don’t let your dog swim in water which has surface scum or appears to be a strange color.
Overheating is a serious risk for dogs. They don’t sweat and can find it very difficult to cool down. Brachycephalic breeds and dogs who are overweight are prone to respiration difficulties or heatstroke.
To prevent this risk… Don’t stay at the beach for too long. Take fresh water and a pop-up shelter if your dog is likely to need a rest. Many dogs will cool off in the ocean; try to prevent them from lapping up saltwater when they do.
Dogs get sunburn too. Maybe not on the furry parts… but exposed parts like faces, noses and ears can turn pink and painful in the hot sun. Afterwards, it can be itchy and sore. Hotspots (dermatitis) are common in the summer when our dogs’ skin is frequently moist and warm.
To prevent this risk… Yes, you can buy sun-lotion for dogs! (Don’t use the human kind as it can be irritating for doggy skin.) Take it with you and reapply, especially if they take a dip in the ocean.
Do you already have a ‘dog safety’ kit stowed in your walking backpack? Great, you’re all set. If not, here are some suggestions for assembling your own ‘dog safety beach bag’… is that a thing? We think that should be a thing.
Is melon a good snack for dogs on the beach? Remember – sometimes it’s too hot for your dog to go out. Watch out for summer allergies (dogs get those too). And if your dog gets dehydrated, make sure you’re prepared.