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Keeping Your Dog Safe At The Beach

These are the tips you need to know before you go to the beach with your dog.We’ve seen a lot of beaches on our trip up the west coast this summer, and Buster has become a big fan of the sand and surf.


Buster’s not really interested in swimming – he just likes to run along the shore biting at the waves – but a lot of dogs are out there playing fetch in the deep water. That got me thinking … what precautions should we be taking to ensure a day of fun doesn’t end in disaster? Here are ten things you need to know to keep your dog safe at the beach.

1. Not all dogs can swim. That’s right, the doggie paddle does not come naturally to every dog … like Ty for example. In fact, certain breeds like Corgis and Pugs don’t swim at all. Find some quiet water and give your dog a chance to show you if he can swim or not by encouraging him to follow you. Never throw your dog in the water and expect him to swim.

2. Drinking salt water is a bad idea. This is logical, and yet getting Buster continues to try to lap up the ocean. The more I want him to stop – the more he wants to drink. In the event you have more luck with your dog, pack plenty of water to keep you both hydrated.

3. Invest in a life vest. Waves, current, and rip tides can quickly exhaust your dog, and that can be deadly. Life vests made specially for dogs come in all sizes. When you’re making your selection, look for one that fastens at three points and has a handle on the back, making it easy for you to lift your dog out of the water.

4. Use sun screen. You’re not the only one that needs to be concerned with sun burn. Get a sun screen specially formulated for dogs and apply it to your dog’s nose and ears 30 minutes before hitting the beach.

5. Beware of submerged dangers. Sharp rocks, shells, coral, and jellyfish can injure your dog. And, because dogs often don’t indicate when they’re in pain, you’ll need to watch his body language and carefully check him for cuts and scrapes.

6. Calm water is best. Surf boards, jet skis, and big waves can frighten your dog. Find a quiet place to play with your pup, or locate a local dog beach were surfing and boating are not allowed.

7. Head for cover. The sun and the sand are fun, but it’s nice to have a place to take a break in the shade and out of the wind. Consider  bringing an inexpensive tent to give you and your dog a comfortable place to relax.

8. Don’t overdo it. Running on sand is strenuous, so don’t expect your dog to be able to fetch as long as he might at the dog park. And, start slow, giving him time to warm up to avoid a muscle pull.

9. Cold water can hurt. Remember, if your dog has arthritis or other joint issues, swimming in cold water can irritate the condition. Stick to shallow water and bays where the water is warmer.

10. Rinse thoroughly. When you’re done playing, take time to rinse salt, sand, and microscopic organisms from your dog’s coat. Also, be sure to dry your dog’s ears as moisture in the ear canal can cause ear infections.

Do you have any additional tips for dogs going to the beach?

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Comment Archive

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Amy@GoPetFriendly Aug 30, 2011 at 5:42 am
These are great suggestions for dog lovers that get to enjoy lakes with their dogs. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing!
Mjelley Aug 30, 2011 at 12:01 am
We take our 16 month old Jack Russell with us on our ski boat.  He gets a life jacket on him before he comes out of his travel crate, and he is on leash , clipped onto the life vest, while on the boat.  I keep poop bags onboard and I carry his own supply of water for the duration.  He has the common sense to stay off the gunwale while we are underway but as soon as we are at anchor, he wants to get in with the fish, our grandchildren and my sons.  I keep him on leash while he swims near me so that he doesn't harass the duck families or run off into the wood near the lake.    He gets a nice warm bath on our return home, a good bowl of food.  He's pretty tired but seems very happy to be with all of us and in the water.  The only challenge I have is keeping him out of the water when I have decided he's getting tired swimming.  Just like with children, sometimes enough is enough.  Hope this helps others who may not spend time on the beach but on the many lakes around our country.
Amy@GoPetFriendly Aug 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm
Great point, Judy! With dogs Buster and Ty's size, that's not something I would have thought of myself. But yesterday we saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree watching the beach, and it makes perfect sense. Thanks so much for adding it to the list!
Seejudysew4u Aug 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm
Hi Amy. I am sitting in our rig and looking at yours. We just met yesterday at the Hard Rain Cafe campground. I am one with 8 Papillons and an Eskie. I wanted to add to your beach blog one more item: on the beach and mt. areas, watch out for eagles. They are capable of carrying off small dogs in a heart beat if off leash and running down the beach or a meadow.
Karen Friesecke Aug 25, 2011 at 5:42 am
Great advice! Most people don't think about the sunscreen. Light coloured/white dogs can get quite a burn if they are not protected.
Melspetpals Aug 25, 2011 at 3:12 am
Wow. Really great advice! We don't have the ocean here, but we do have a dog park along the Mississippi River. I am always terrified when I see a dog chase a stick out into the deeper waters. A life vest is a great idea and should be required on a river or in the ocean.  I'm sharing this one. Seriously great advice.
Kristine Aug 25, 2011 at 12:03 am
Great advice! I don't really have much else to add. Even though Shiva isn't a swimmer either, she loves running on the beach. It's one of our favourite places to go. Since most of the beaches are not dog-friendly we can only head out there during the off-season months in the spring, winter, and fall. I think May was the last time we went and I kind of miss it. The beach is one of the reasons we don't mind the cooler weather! Love the tip about the swimming vest. I think we should try that to help encourage Shiva to get in the water. It's crazy. We live in a part of the world surrounded and filled with water. It's sad that our dog is so uninterested!
Pamela Aug 24, 2011 at 1:25 am
That's a pretty thorough list. I'd be surprised to find any additions. Related to the reminder that not all dogs swim, I've been amazed to see how many people pull their dogs into the water against their will. It's almost as if they take it personally if their dog doesn't like the water.
Amy@GoPetFriendly Aug 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm
Awesome! Though she looks less than pleased. :-D
Veronica Adams Aug 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm
Maggie's new vest