DOGS ON THE BEACH AND PRECAUTIONS
Dogs may have a blast at the beach this summer, but as 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.”
DANGERS DOGS MAY BE EXPOSED TO AT THE BEACH
Advanced planning is a must before you take Fido on a week-end get-away 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 company of your canine companion. Following are some dangers dogs may be exposed to at the beach.
THE EFFECTS OF SALT WATER
Not many dog owners are aware of the deleterious effects salt water 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 salt water 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 salted water by offering ample of fresh water from home, truth is that in most cases, dogs may ingest significant amounts of salted water 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 salt water being ingested.
THE EFFECTS OF UV RAYS
Obviously, if you are heading to the beach in the midst of the summer your dog will be exposed to harmful sun rays. Particularly vulnerable are dogs with short hair, white fur, and pink skin. However, don’t be fast in passing that sunscreen to your dog as of 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 just made for dogs or use a child-safe sun tan lotion approved by your vet.
THE EFFECTS OF SWIMMING
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.
THE EFFECTS OF HEAT
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 over do it, especially when they have residual pent up energy. Also, keep in mind that dogs may over heat even when in the water, especially when the water temperatures are over 75 degrees.
OTHER HIDDEN DANGERS
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.