When you’re playing outdoors, sunscreen and hydration are a no-brainer. But what about your pet’s safety? Find out how to avoid common dangers so that you and your dog can enjoy the sand and the surf this summer.
Always bring fresh water and a bowl for your pet to drink from. According to Dr. Jason Nicholas, author of 101 Essential Tips You Need to Raise a Happy, Healthy, Safe Dog, thirsty dogs may try to drink seawater. “If they try to quench their thirst with seawater they're likely to end up with digestive upset and can easily suffer from dehydration or salt toxicity, too," Dr. Nicholas says. Offer fresh water throughout the day.
Red tide in salt water and blue-green algae in freshwater can harm dogs. “Contact with the toxins that such algae can produce can lead to skin irritation, while ingestion of the toxins can lead to digestive upset, liver failure, and even death,” says Dr. Nicholas. Keep your dogs away from the water entirely when these toxins are present.
“Hot sand, rocks, shells, and broken glass are all things that can injure your dog's paws while at the beach,” says Dr. Nicholas who advises dog owners to carefully examine and rinse paws after a trip to the beach.
Not all dogs can swim. Some breeds are more skilled than others. “While you might think it’s cute to have a swimming dog, don’t force your dog into the water if they seem uncomfortable or unable to stay afloat,” says Dr. Wismer who recommends that dogs on boats wear canine life vests for safety.
Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, cautions dog owners to be aware of heatstroke risk in dogs. “Since dogs don't sweat they have to pant to remove body heat,” says Dr. Wismer. “Short faced dogs (bulldogs, pugs) are more at risk for heat stroke. A good rule of thumb to follow: If it is uncomfortable for you, it can be a problem for your dog!” Give your dog access to shade and water at all times.
Some shorelines are littered with trash, seaweed and decaying marine life. Dogs may attempt to ingest things that will make them sick. Keep an eye on your dog to make sure nothing is being eaten. “People who live in the Pacific Northwest need to be careful of salmon poisoning which is due to a parasite ingested in raw salmon,” says Dr. Wismer.
Grassy beaches and dunes may contain ticks which carry diseases that can harm humans and dogs. Use tick repellent on your dog, and always check the coat for signs of ticks after a trip to the beach.
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