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Planning your Pup-Safe Beach Vacation

Pet Health and Safety  •   Erin Tursam  •   May 31, 2017

Does your dog love to run down the sandy shores or jump through the rolling surf? Well, a beach vacation might be just the right vacation for you and your pup this summer! Before you start packing a beach doggie bag, make sure you’ve done your homework and you’ll have an awesome beach vacay.

#1: Choose the right beach

Do your research and ensure you’ve chosen a dog-friendly beach. Some beaches allow dogs on a leash only, some allow off-leash and others allow off-leash at certain times of the day or year. Make sure you’ve read all the rules for the beach your visiting. You can find dog beaches worldwide at BringFido. If your beach allows dogs to be off-leash, make sure that your dog has good recall and is friendly with other dogs.

#2: Come prepared

Even if you are at an off-leash beach and your dog as a good recall, always have a leash on hand. Make sure your dog is wearing the proper identification like a dog tag. You should also never be without doggie waste disposal bags! Nothing ruins a day at the beach more than stepping in a landmine! Also have something to let your dog drink fresh water from, a towel and some treats if needed.

#3: Check your surroundings

Before you choose your play area for the day, do a safety check of your surroundings. Look for harsh rocks or shells. Look for jelly fish or sea turtles. Other dead fish or animals washing ashore. Look for litter or trash that may injure your dog. Check out what is near the beach that might entice your dog to run off—playground, boardwalk, restaurants. Whenever you travel with your pets, identify where the closest veterinary office is. Better to know in advance than to be looking for a vet in an emergency.

#4: Be ready for the sun

The sun is always hotter and stronger at the beach so be extra prepared. Some shorter-coated breeds or hairless breeds may require pet-safe sunscreen. Dogs will often try to lick off the sunscreen so check with a vet, dog groomer and read labels prior to applying a human sun screen.

#5: Stay cool

To avoid the heat, ensure your pup has adequate shade available. Bring a tent, an umbrella or make sure there are trees or shelter nearby. Also remember to do a touch-test of the ground or sand. If it’s too hot for your feet, it’s too hot for his paws. Avoid areas where the ground is hot, walk in the shade or on wet sand and move across warm footing quickly if it is unavoidable. 

#6: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Just like you, dogs need plenty of fresh water at the beach. They may not stop to tell you they need a drink. Always carry fresh water and a container to serve it in and offer your pooch water frequently throughout the day. Dogs will often try to lap up the salty, ocean water. Though a little salt water won’t hurt them, you’ll want to limit the intake. It also might be an indication they are thirsty. Monitor your dog for heat stroke and exhaustion throughout the day. Be sure you take plenty of breaks. Dogs don’t self-limit and heat stroke can creep up silently and quickly.

#7: Be ready for the water

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs can swim! Before you let your pup dive in, make sure you’ve done a test swim in a pool or lake. Whether you have a gold medal swimmer Portuguese Water Dog or a Dachshund, it’s probably best if your dog doesn’t go further than it can stand. Sometimes even dogs that typically love swimming are intimated by the waves. Don’t force your dog to go in the water if he’s showing resistance or apprehension.

#8: Be prepared for play

Take precautions when playing fetch in the water. The ocean current can carry toys or sticks out entirely too far. If you’re worried, use an extra-long training leash when playing in the water or you can purchase your dog a life vest specifically made for dogs. Ensure you read all the sizing instructions to ensure you get the right fit for your dog.

#9: Post-beach care

So, your fun day at the beach is over and you are ready to relax. Relaxing is good but first do some post-beach pet care. The salt water and sand can irritate some dog’s skin. A good rinsing with fresh water is a good idea or even a full bath might be in order. Check his coat for debris as well as check paw pads for abrasions or debris.

If done properly, a beach vacation could be the perfect getaway for you and your pup. It might even be just what the veterinarian ordered!

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