How to keep your dog safe at the beach

What’s better than a day at the beach? A day at the beach with your dog, of course! Beaches are great fun and dogs love them, but there are plenty of risks for your pooch at the seaside. 


Kathleen Pohl, a veterinary surgeon from Zetland Vets and My Family Vets, takes a closer look at how to keep your dog safe at the beach…


Papillion windswept at the beach
Doggy member Elsie

Bring plenty of water 


It’s always a good idea to bring water with you when you take your dog for a walk. Taking a bottle of fresh water is a must when you’re visiting the beach with your dog. 


More often than not, the weather will be warmer than normal when you’re visiting the coast, and the beach is a stimulating environment for pooches. By ensuring your dog has constant access to fresh water, you reduce the risk of them dehydrating or drinking seawater, which can have really dangerous consequences. 


For dogs, seawater looks like it would be a refreshing source of water, but this isn’t the case and if they drink too much, they can quickly become dehydrated. If your dog drinks a significant amount of seawater, they can become disoriented and lethargic. The high salt content of seawater causes an imbalance of salt in the blood, which can result in tremors, and in extreme cases can cause seizures and even death in very extreme cases. 


Watch out for dangerous objects


Take extra care to avoid sharp objects, such as fish hooks, broken glass and discarded items such as cans and plastic. Sharp foreign items can easily get caught in your dog’s mouth and can damage their digestive tract if swallowed. 


Keep an eye out for discarded food and drink, as they can attract wasps, so try and keep your dog distracted with toys and treats. Take extra care if you’re visiting a beach where jellyfish are prominent. Don’t let your dog go too far into the water and keep an eye on them at all times.


If your dog has swallowed something sharp at the beach, or you suspect that they have been stung by a wasp or jellyfish, contact your vet right away. 


Miniature Schnazuer sitting on the beach
Doggy member Bluebelle

Create a shady area for your pooch


If you're visiting the beach on a hot day, pack an umbrella to make sure that your dog has access to a shady area where they can relax and stay cool. Concrete and sand can get really hot and burn your dog’s paw pads. A good rule of thumb is: if it’s too hot for your hands or bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Try to avoid visiting during the hottest parts of the day. 


Just like us, our pets can get sunburnt. Light-coloured animals can be prone to skin cancer; to reduce this risk, be sure to apply sun cream (yes, you can get special sun cream just for dogs!) to white and pink areas of their skin, particularly the tips of the ears.


Pack some frozen treats


There are few finer things in life than enjoying an ice-lolly on a roasting hot day. Why not bring some frozen treats for your pooch to enjoy? You can freeze their favourite treats and turn them into ‘pup-sicles’. Use ingredients such as banana, peanut butter and chicken to create tasty lollies. 


You can freeze the mixtures into moulds or inside of their Kong to keep your dog cool and mentally stimulated. Ice cubes also make for a refreshing and easy to prepare treat. 


Small fluffy dog sitting on the beach
Doggy member Ralph


My Family Vets are a network of vets across the UK, you can find a practice near you by visiting their handy vet finder. 


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