Dogs on Beach


Dogs may have a blast at the beach this summer, but, as with everything, you must make safety your top priority.  Learn what dangers are lurking in the salty waters.

Beaches can be fun but use caution.  There seem to be more and more beaches nowadays that allow man’s best friend the luxury of rolling in the sand and playing among the waves.  As much as it sounds like fun, there are several things that may go wrong at the beach, and that, most importantly, could be easily prevented.

First of all, dog owners should learn to abide to all the rules and regulations of the dog beach; the rules are not only there to ensure order and respect, but also most importantly safety.  Secondly, there are several dangers your dog may be exposed to and as the saying goes ”an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


Advanced planning is a must before you take your dog on a weekend getaway on the beach.  Whether your destination has rocks or sand, shallow or deep water, there are always hidden risks you want to be prepared for.  Do not improvise your trip to the beach, but rather plan ahead, so you have all the accessories needed to grant a day packed with fun and good memories in the company of your canine companion.  Following are some dangers dogs may be exposed to at the beach.

Not many dog owners are aware of the deleterious effects saltwater may have on dogs:  Drooling, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are the most common symptoms.  At times, the diarrhea may be so severe it is projectile, literally shooting out of the dog’s rectum.  Blood or mucous may also be observed in the diarrhea.  This form of diarrhea actually has a name, ”beach diarrhea,” and is caused by excess water accumulating in the dog’s intestines.

When very high concentrations of saltwater are ingested, the dog’s bloodstream may be too high in sodium, a condition known as ”hypernatremia,” which may result in serious effects such as seizures, coma, and even death, in certain circumstances, due to swelling of the brain.

As much as dog owners may try to avoid their dogs from ingesting saltwater by offering ample fresh water from home, truth is that in most cases, dogs may ingest significant amounts of saltwater just from playing among the waves and trying to catch a ball.  Try to bring your dog in the shade every fifteen minutes and offer him fresh water to limit the amount of saltwater being ingested.

Obviously, if you are heading to the beach in the midst of the summer, your dog will be exposed to harmful sunrays.  Particularly vulnerable, are dogs with short hair, white fur, and pink skin.  However, don’t be so fast in putting that sunscreen on your dog just yet.  Human sunscreen, indeed, can be toxic to dogs upon being licked since it contains PABA and zinc oxide.  While, generally, large amounts need to ingested to manifest side effects, it is best to invest in sun lotion made just for dogs or use a child-safe suntan lotion approved by your vet.

Many dogs are natural swimmers, but some may not be confident enough to start swimming if you toss them in the water.  Swimming is also quite tiring, so do not allow your dog to overdo it, no matter how much fun he may seem to be having.  Avoid keeping your dog in the water if there are strong tides and risks for rip currents.  Dogs are also prone to being easy targets for sea lice and jelly fish, and last but not least, salt water may have a bad effect on the dog’s skin, so it is advisable to remove all traces salt water by rinsing your dog afterwards.  Don’t forget to also remove the collar to prevent trapping moisture and potentially causing annoying hot spots.

Your dog may get heat exhaustion if exposed to the heat for too long and without shade.  Consider also that running in the sand can be exhausting and can cause over-exhaustion and leg sprains.  Some dogs tend do overdo it, especially when they have residual pent up energy.  Also, keep in mind that dogs may overheat even when in the water, especially when the water temperatures are over 75 degrees.

Sand granules in the eyes may cause irritation, eye pain, and redness.  Should this occur, try to flush the eye with water (not salted, of course!).  If the eye does not get better, consider seeing the vet for a potential corneal ulcer.  Also, prevent your dog from eating sand which may cause an upset stomach, and keep him away from eating shells, starfish or stones, all items potentially capable of causing serious intestinal obstructions.

Of course, your dog should also abide to the dog beach etiquette.  Don’t allow your dog to play rough with other dogs, pick up after your dog and keep an eye on him at all times.