Heathside Veterinary Surgery Blog

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Beach safety for dogs

We are so lucky being on the south coast with some wonderful beaches to enjoy during hot weather, and whilst we always recommend keeping your dog cool (let’s face it what better place can you think of than in the water?), there are just a few tips we would like to pass on to keep your dog safe on the beach.

Swimming 

Think of a dog at the beach and you can picture them swimming – but the truth is not all dogs are swimmers! Like us they still have to learn and whilst some breeds seem natural born swimmers (such as labradors, spaniels, or retrievers) and can swim strongly, others are not inclined to be so good in the water. For example, Daschunds, Pugs, and Bassetts really aren’t designed to be good swimmers!

Dogs, like children, find it difficult to know when to stop – so even if your dog swims well and loves the water, please make sure they take regular breaks to avoid exhaustion. Offer them fresh water and possibly a snack, plus a chance to crash out.

Currents and waves can appear out of nowhere, and only takes one freak wave, or an unexpected current or rip-tide, and it can pull them out to sea. It might be wise, even if you have a strong swimmer to invest in a doggy life vest – just be really safe.

Have you ever heard of swimmers tail? Also known as “Limber Tail”, this condition can mean your dog has a painful, immobile tail from excessive swimming! If you do suspect this, please check them in with one of our vets 

Burning 

Remember - just because there might be cool shore breezes, the summer beach temperatures can really soar. Don’t be caught out! Always provide a good sun shelter for your dog when he’s not in the water, in the form of a parasol or even a sun tent, with a UV filter fabric. And of course, always ensure cool fresh water is available all times.

You have heard, no doubt, about walking your dogs on hot pavements – pebbles and sand on the beach can also get mighty hot with high temperatures. Please be aware as we don’t want any burnt paws!

Remember too the risks of sunburn - always rub pet safe sunscreen into exposed areas of your dog. Exposed skin can burn, and even develop skin cancer, so (especially on short haired/thin haired breeds and those with pink skin) ear flaps, nose and tummy are all definite spots to apply sunscreen.

The beach and shoreline

Try to discourage your dog from drinking seawater – it simply isn’t good for them. Obviously they are going to ingest some as they play, but try to regularly offer fresh water, to make them less interested in seawater. We do sometimes see salt poisoning (which can cause brain damage). In addition, if the water quality is low, there may be increased numbers of bacteria and parasites in it, meaning your dog could become quite unwell. 

Always try to rinse your dog down with fresh water before leaving the beach – this means hopefully he will be less likely to try and groom himself on the way home, reducing the risk of sea salt poisoning.

Be aware of hazards on the beach including fishing hooks, broken glass and plastic – these can all pose problems for your four-legged friend. Dead fish on the shore should also not be eaten by your pooch, they may contain poisons that could make your dog ill – including heavy-metals, toxins, and bacterial or viral poisons. 

If you are on a sandy beach, bear in mind the amount of sand ingested when chasing after toys including balls and Frisbees – too much sand can cause damage to the gut which will require veterinary treatment.

If you are having a barbecue please dispose of everything responsibly, douse the embers and take bones and skewers home. Not just keeping your dog safe, but other people, other dogs, and wildlife alike!

If you are in any doubt whether your dog will be safe on the beach in hot weather, leaving them at home in a cool and shady room with plenty of water will be just as good – they can always play on the beach when the weather is cooler. 

And don’t forget if you’re at all concerned about the welfare of your dog, or any other pets then please call us for advice on 01489 607001 – and remember to please keep your pets hydrated using fresh water all times!