7 ways to keep your dog safe at the beach

October 28, 2009

We have an event here in San Diego every year called the Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon. It’s a fundraiser for a local dog shelter that draws over 4000 spectators. Anyway, this event is all about your dog on a surfboard surfing the waves here in San Diego… I know, crazy huh.

This event was just a little bit ago and it got me thinking; everybody is so careful when taking their children to the ocean, but I wasn’t sure if everyone was as careful when bringing their dog. I mean for most people, your dog is another member of your family so you need to make sure you and they are prepared. Here is an article on making sure your dog is safe at the beach.

7 Things You Must Know to Keep Your Dog Safe on the Waves

 Most dog breeds love the water and many are natural swimmers. In fact, some breeds like the Portuguese Water dog were bred specifically for swimming however, that doesn’t mean the ocean is a safe place for dogs. Teaching your dog to swim isn’t as easy as training cool dog tricks like rolling over. If you love to swim and enjoy surfing, boating and other ocean recreation, and you want to share that time with your dog, here are seven things you must know to keep your dog safe on the waves.

#1  Make sure your dog can swim. We assume that all dogs can swim when the truth is, they can’t. Not every dog knows how to swim instinctively and some breeds are unable to. Have you ever seen a Bulldog doing laps?  They sink like a brick. Pugs, Dachshunds, and Corgis are among a few of the non-swimming breeds. So first and foremost, before hitting the waves with your four-legged friend, make sure Fido can swim.

#2  Lifejackets are a dog’s best friend – at least while they’re on the water. Fatigue, heavy waves, riptides and a whole slew of dangers can cause your dog to go under. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to making sure they stay safe in the ocean – lifejackets. Dog life jackets come in sizes for all breeds. Look for ones that have a minimum of two clasps around their torso and one around their neck where a collar would go. Additionally, look for a dog life jacket that has a handle on the dog’s back so you can easily retrieve them from the water.

#3  Drinking the ocean water. If you’ve ever swallowed a belly full of water then you know the discomfort and sometimes sickness that can occur. Dogs generally know not to drink the water but take extra care to make sure they don’t to avoid an ill dog.

#4  Sea creatures. The ocean is a beautiful place full of amazing creatures however, some of these creatures can be harmful to dogs and humans. Keep an extra eye out for jellyfish, which can sting and even kill your dog. Coral and sharp shells can also cut your dog’s feet if you’re swimming in a shallow area or as you’re entering and leaving the ocean. Additionally, watch out for sea lice and of course sharks!

#5  Pay close attention to their body signals. Dog’s can’t tell you when they’re getting tired and if your dog is like many, they just want to make you happy which means they’ll stay in the water forever. Give them plenty of rest breaks, lots of fresh water and a few snacks so they have energy to stay safe.

#6  Water hazards. Take extra care to only take your dog in the water where it’s calm and safe. High waves crashing on and around your dog can terrify them not to mention be dangerous. Additionally, strong currents and riptides can take them quickly out of your reach. Areas where there are a lot of boats, surfboards, jet skis and other obstacles can make your dog nervous and put them in danger. Excessively cold water can also cause hypothermia and irritate joint problems, arthritis, and other illnesses.

#7  After care. Once your dog is safely out of the water, spend a few minutes rinsing the salt water, microscopic creatures and plant material off their coat. Make sure their ears are dry to prevent fungus and check their feet for abrasions. If your dog has never been in the water before, you may want to start with a small pool, bathtub, or stay close to shore to make sure they’re comfortable in the water before you venture out to deeper areas.

Most dogs love the water, especially during the hot summer months, and spending time with their beloved owner is a great way to spend the day. Make sure your dog is safe and you’ll both have fun.

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