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.
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Life Vests for the Win
Now, is Dogalini going swimming? Grand. But she has no idea of what going out too far might mean, so fit her out with a life vest, please. “Fit” is the operative word here. The Whole Dog Journal offers a nifty little blog post on the subject, in which a veterinarian explains proper fit – “snug across the chest and around the belly.” In a loose-fitting vest, your dog will struggle to keep her head above water. A dog in a snug vest is also easier to lift out of the water or pull to shore if she’s tired herself out.
Water, Water Everywhere …
Another caution about swimming in salt water. My dog Juniper loves to swim, maybe even more than he loves eating dinner and rolling in mud. In his swimming joy, he dips his head in the water and flings it all around, in the process drinking some. No, a lot. Clean fresh water is one thing – so he needs extra toilet breaks after a good swim, big deal – but taking on a lot of salt water can do bad things to the kidneys. If your dog also imbibes copiously, you might want to cross ocean swimming off his bucket list. And remember, any dog who gets really thirsty may drink whatever’s available. So bring plenty of fresh, cool water for your Dogalini by the beach.
And I have more cautions yet. Don’t call me a wet blanket, please! Unless that wet blanket is draped over some poles to give your dog a shady spot to rest. All that sun and sand get mighty hot. Also, you’ve probably noticed how walking or running in soft sand tires you a lot faster than doing the same things on a sidewalk or lawn, right? Same goes for your Zippy. This can be a good thing, from the point of view of getting a young, athletic dog tired enough to chill out and relax. But if your dog is a bit older, or something of a weekend warrior, remember he has no discretion (kind of like a lot of human weekend warriors, amirite?). Take frequent breaks in hot-weather beachy play, and watch your dog for signs of heatstroke: heavy panting, thick saliva, reluctance to move around … and it gets worse from there. Heatstroke is a veterinary emergency, so don’t wait to be sure Zippy has it. If you’re worried, head for the vet.
And, last but never, ever least: clean up the poop. Dog feces washed into the ocean pollutes shellfish beds, winds up in swimming areas, and is just generally bad for the environment, yucky, and no fun to step in.
All right, now that I’ve delivered all the warnings, here’s one you don’t have to pay attention to: Stay out of the water for an hour after you eat, or you’ll get cramp and drown. Guess what? It’s totally not true! For you, that is. I don’t actually know about Dogalini. So hang out on that blanket a little while longer, please. And have a good time!
Stop by and see me, or at least my non-swimsuit-clad avatar, on Facebook, and you can also write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome your comments and suggestions, and though I can’t reply individually, I may use them as the basis for future articles. Thanks for reading!
Check out The Dog Trainer's Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet for more tips and tricks on keeping your dog safe and healthy in any season.
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Dog on beach photo courtesy of Shutterstock.