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Beach Season Safety for Dogs

July 17, 2017

Headed to the beach with your buddy this summer? Whether it’s lakeside or along California’s coast, it’s important to take precautions that keep your furry friend safe. As exciting and fun as the beach is (both for you and your dog), all that sand and water can come with a few surprising dangerous–some of which can be downright deadly.

But that doesn’t mean that you should write the beach off this summer entirely; in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Just like visiting the dog park or heading out for a road trip with your pup, a few safety precautions go a long way to keeping Fido safe.

Get informed and prepared for the upcoming beach season with these coastal cues for fun in the sun.

Keep Paws Protected

Hot sand, hot pavement, and even sometimes hot earth can burn your dog’s sensitive paws. Use a good paw balm before you head out or don a thin, light pair of beach booties to make sure he’s comfortable and safe to frolic as he sees fit.

Check sensitive paws every hour or two for sticks, twigs, shells, cuts, and other beach-related irritants or injuries. If they occur, rinse and treat them immediately to prevent infection.

Be aware that cuts from certain shellfish may come with a high propensity for infection or irritation; these should be treated immediately with a thin layer of antibiotic spray.

For basic cuts and scrapes, a dip in clean salt water works wonders! Dip in salt water or just have your dog walk in. Then, pat it dry and inspect it for debris.

Use Pest Products in Advance

We’ve mentioned this in other blogs, but it bears repeating: be sure to de-flea, de-worm, or de-tick your dog in advance, not only when you’re headed out to the beach. It takes between 24 to 48 hours for flea and tick spot-ons to work. Deworming medications may take up to a week. As most are preventative, using them in advance is imperative.

Never dose your dog only on the day of your beach trip assume that’s enough. Though pest medications like Capstar are designed for daily use, they are often ineffective unless taken daily for some time.

Keep in mind that pest products do very little to protect your pup from common beach-oriented pests like deer flies, horse flies, black flies, and mosquitos. Treat itchy fly bites with a topical Benadryl stick to reduce irritation for your dog..

Nix Painful Jellyfish Stings With Rubbing Alcohol

Dogs love visiting the ocean. Whether it’s the fresh salty air or the crabs they get to chase, coastal beaches just seem to be incredibly interesting for our canine friends. For dogs that love water, running down the sand and straight into the ocean is a cherished favorite activity that inspires giggles and smiles from human companions.

Unfortunately, more than one dog has flounced into the water in belly-flop fashion only to land on a jellyfish. Depending on where you live, that jellyfish sting could range from incredibly dangerous to mildly annoying, so it’s important to first understand what you’re up against.

Both the pacific and atlantic waters contain an endless array of jellyfish. Of these species, only a few of the larger species are dangerous enough to cause potential fatalities in dogs:

  • Box jellyfish
  • Portuguese man-of-war
  • Sea nettle
  • Lion’s mane jellyfish

The first two of these jellyfish only live in subtropical or full tropical locations. The sea nettle and lion’s mane jellyfish, however, have been found as far north as Northern California and New England. If your dog is stung by one of these jellyfish, you should seek immediate vet care even if he or she doesn’t show immediate symptoms.

For all other jellyfish stings, flush the sting site off with rubbing alcohol. Be sure to wear rubber gloves to avoid being stung yourself. Never flush tentacles away with water or vinegar; these will only cause the tentacles to release more venom, resulting in even more sings.

After you clean your dog’s sting site, monitor him carefully for the next 24 hours. Vomiting, convulsions, tremors, diarrhea, and other neurological symptoms could occur in rare situations. Seek vet care if you have any concerns.

Keep Cool Rest Areas Accessible

Hitting the beach for the afternoon? Find a shady spot to sit or bring an umbrella. Even though your dog can cool off in the water, having a cool place to relax is still important to prevent heat stroke.

If there’s no shade available, pop back to your vehicle every couple of hours for 15 to 30 minutes in your air conditioning.

Be sure to encourage your dog to relax throughout the day–it’ll prevent overexertion, which can lead to heatstroke in dogs.

Use Canine Sunscreen When Needed

Have a hairless or thin-haired breed? Sunburn is possible along any area where skin shows, and can sometimes even occur under existing fur.

Preventing sunburn is vital; just as with humans, repeated sunburns can be painful and may even induce melanoma cancers in some dogs.

Check your dog over before you hit the beach to identify potential problem areas. Of particular note is along the spine, inside the ears, the upper nose, and the area at the base of the tail where the fur parts–these all carry a higher risk for sunburn.

To prevent sunburn, work preventatively first. Stick to the shade and limit the amount of time your dog spends in the midday sun (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.). When he does venture out, spray him down with a good dog-safe sunscreen like Epi-Pet’s Sun Protector Spray – it’s the only FDA-approved formula on the market to date.

Beware Strong Currents & Undertows

The ocean (and even particularly large lakes) are wondrous, amazing bodies of water that capture our hearts and enchant our minds. While most of us have the sense to respect their power, your pooch doesn’t have the same ability. You must be his protector when it comes to strong currents and undertows, keeping him away from dangerous areas before accidents occur.

Particularly strong currents and undertows are most common wherever tides are high, but they can happen in harbors, coves, and even along piers, too. Know tide times and how currents change before you let your dog swim.

If you know a place has a particularly strong current, keep your dog on a long leash and stay on the shore while he frolicks; you can pull him in if he gets caught up in the current. A canine life vest is also wise–it could buy you the time needed to rescue him if an accident happens.

Bring Sterile Saline Eye Rinse Along

The beach is full of potential irritants, both for you and your dog. Sensitive canine ear canals, gums, eyes, and noses can become clogged with tiny grains of sand that cause everything from sneezing to irritation and redness.

A can of sterile saline eye rinse works wonders for issues like these, letting you flush the area out without stinging or pain. Best of all, it’s gentle enough to be used for any part of the body with no stinging.

If your dog gets a face full of sand or sand in her ear, don’t attempt to brush it out with your fingers. Instead, flush it out with fluid. Tilt the area to the sound and gently pour or squeeze the eye rinse into the area, letting it drip out again afterward. Repeat until you’re confident the debris is removed.

Make this year’s beach or lakeside adventure better than ever by being prepared and ready for what may come. Most importantly, never venture out without a microchip–collars can be lost and tags may fall off. If your dog is spooked or happens to run off, a microchip could very well save his life and see that he makes it back to his beloved home.

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