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It's a Day at the Beach

There's more to taking your dog to the beach than just grabbing her leash! Choose a dog-friendly place, and learn how to keep your pooch safe and healthy (sunburn and salt water can be big problems), while having a great time.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
July 23, 2013
Episode #206

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What could be as lovely as a day at the beach? The lapping of the waves, the sand between your toes, little grains clinging to every surface that has any sunscreen on it … and hanging out with you, one happy, furry, sandy Dogalini, right? Well, maybe. It depends on your Dogalini, and also on the beach. This week, whether to bring your dog along with your cooler and flip-flops and, if so, how to have a good time safely.

Sponsor: The podcast version of this article is brought to you by Betterment, an easier way to invest. Visit www.betterment.com/dogtrainer.

Make Sure Dogs Are Allowed!

Before you start making plans, check that the beach you’re headed for even allows dogs. Many or most popular public beaches don’t, at least not during the high season. You can understand the “Ewww, that lump in the sand under my towel is dog poop” factor, I’m sure. And some coastal areas are home to threatened or outright endangered species. As more and more habitat is lost to climate change and property development, we dog folks really need to defer to wildlife protection. For example, off-leash dogs chase birds and may destroy their nests and young. A 2007 Australian study found that even dogs on leash disturbed ground-nesting birds, cutting back their numbers substantially. And the birds didn’t seem to get used to the dogs’ presence over time. One study isn’t absolute proof, of course, but it makes me want to err on the side of caution in choosing where to walk my dog.

Bring Your Sunscreen

Okay, you’ve found a lovely spot by the ocean where Dogalini is welcome. Now to make sure your outing is fun and safe. What does your dermatologist always nag you to wear to the beach? Yes, sunscreen. Dogalini’s dermatologist will tell you the same thing. Nose, ear tips, belly and groin, and anyplace else where fur is sparse or skin is lightly pigmented should get the same treatment as you yourself. According to an article by the veterinary dermatologist Carol Foil, DVM, you can use sunscreen formulated for human babies, unless your dog is inclined to lick it off; in that case, best go for a product specially meant for pets. Pet products aren’t allowed to have an SPF label, but they’ll be described as “the equivalent” of a human SPF. Thirty is a nice number for Dogalini as well as for you.

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