10 things you need to spend a great day at the beach with your dog
Got your swimsuit, sunglasses and a towel? If taking your dog to the beach with you, you'll need some more...
Summer has come so get ready for some outdoor fun! Do you like taking your dog to the beach? It can be a fun experience, but without proper equipment it could easily get stressful. Why? Well if you're asking this question, you probably never owned a dog wit sunburn on his nose, or a dog who drank a loooot of sea water... The list can be very long. Because I love to take my dog with me everywhere I go, and because of my good and bad experience, let me show you 10 important things you should consider taking with you when planning a day at the sea. Because you probably want this day to be great!
Photo by margaretkilljoy (Flickr)
Do dogs like going to the beach?
I'd say "of course they do", but some dogs are actually not so fond of it. Some dogs don't like swimming or getting wet at all, some find it too hot and their paws get burned. White dogs with pale skin can get sunburned, others hate being splashed by waves... As a good dog owner you should think about how to make beach time fun for both of you. Different dogs have different needs, just like people. And dogs who don't swim aren't necessarily dogs who'll never swim!
What would you say is a "Squidog"?
My dog is crazy about water. It got so far that I have to put her on a leash each time we get close to water (in winter or before visiting my parents' house or if she has a wound etc.). She would get all excited and run into the water, turn around and wait motionless for a toy being thrown to fetch. My mom says that she believes that we are making those beach trips only because of her. She can stand in shallow water and wait for hours. Even if nobody throws anything. In cold water she would start shaking, but still wait.... Oh, I forgot to mention that she's a Border Collie - of course she gets fixated! Let me give you some advice about making it fun for your dog - I am sure you would die to see a happy smiley waggy-tailed dog!
1. Prevent a heat stroke
Hyperthermia or a heat stroke is a serious condition, which can cause damage to the dogs muscles and organs. It can happen if a dog is left in a hot environment (a car, on the beach without shade) and his body is absorbing more heat than it can release. Dogs don't sweat - they release temperature through tongue and paws. When the temperature in the dog's body gets to the point where the dog is unable to regulate it, a heat stroke or a heat exhaustion can occur. All dog owners should think of this danger when traveling with their dog (especially dogs with berthing difficulties - Pugs, French Bulldogs etc.). They should pay attention to the symptoms (excessive panting, drooling, foaming, very red gums etc.) and provide immediate medical attention to the dog if needed. If not taken care of, it can have serious consequences, the worst of which is death. In modern world such scenarios can easily be prevented with cooling pads. Cooling pads are really practical and long-lasting. They do not have to be cooled - the system works by itself: with water activating cooling crystals or it gets activated by weight. Like this one:
2. Eye protection
Dogs' eyes are as sensitive as humans. When being constantly exposed to wind, sun, sandstorms or sea-salt, they can get infected or irritated. The sun is the most aggressive because of the UV-rays (especially in snow environment) and can cause eye damage. Fortunately there is a solution to this problem - goggles for dogs called "doggles". They hence foreign parcels, UV-rays and wind. And they can look funky too!
Did you bring a sandwich? A chocolate bar? Some fruit? A day in the sun can make you hungry, but don't forget about your buddy, who has been swimming and fetching that tennis ball all day. He must be hungry like a woolf! It is best if you pack your dog's chow at home and prepare a picnic for the two of you. A soft easy-to-close travel bowl would be a perfect thing to have.
4. Providing shade
Even if you like to lie in the hot summer sun all day and get your skin tanned, it is probably not the thing your dog likes the most. Especially dogs who don't like swimming and getting wet can start getting nervous and searching for shade. Many beaches aren't providing natural shade, so it's up to you to help your pet friend find relief. Portable pet tents are made of light materials and are easy to put together. 1-2-3, a doggy tent next to me!
Some dogs don't even try it, others have fear of water. Many dog owners have succeeded to teach their dogs to swim with a little help. A flotation jacket brings confidence in the dog's mind and enables him to enjoy the cooling effect of the splashy adventure. When you take your dog to a boat trip, you can use it as safety gear. Just be sure to choose the appropriate size!
6. Leash your dog when needed
Most of the beaches (all in my country) don't allow off leash walking of dogs. I go to the non public beaches, where I unleash my dog only when interacting with her (swimming, playing). The rest of the time I have to put her on the leash because she would try to "greet" and "play with" other people at the beach, most of which do not like dogs. As a responsible dog owner I have to be careful not to upset them, because they could literally kick me off the beach.
Some dogs have to stay on leash even while swimming, because they tend to "climb" on swimmers and scratch them. A waterproof swimming leash is a good thing to have to avoid rusty carbines and wet smelly ropes.
7. Waterproof collar for swim addicts
Your fancy leather equipment or stylish dog collar will be ruined by salty water and strong sun rays. It is a shame using them for swimming, because they will literally fall apart after a few sessions. Try using a waterproof collar and avoid the unpleasant drying (and stinking) when returning home.
8. Drinking plenty of tap water
I was surprised when I first noticed my dog drinking salty sea water. She obviously didn't distinguish it from tap water OR was too thirsty to think. It didn't end very well, as you can imagine. Drinking salty water makes dogs (and humans) suffer from diarrhea. And for sure diarrhea is one of the least things you want to experience when having fun at the beach. Remember bringing a large water supply for both of you. I hate carrying dog bowls around in my backpack, because they are so big and unpractical. I found a 3 in 1 solution bowl for my dog: light and flexible and can be used as a toy to fetch. The third advantage is to get my dog to drink water, because she usually doesn't have time for it when wanting to play. A toy-bowl always catches her attention.
9. Water toys for play-freaks
I used to throw wooden sticks to my dog to fetch but ever since I heard dogs can hurt themselves when playing with them, I changed them for toys. We also made some progress playing: before she tried to trick me with various sticks (she would find herself new ones when I wanted to end the game). Now she only waits for the moment when I open my bag and HOORAY!
10. Last but not least - Sun protection
Yes, some people find it odd, but when owning a pale-nosed-want-to-play-all-the-time-in-the-sun-dog, you just can't believe what can happen. The same as humans, dogs can get sunburned. And I am not talking only about blisters - a more serious damage is made by UV-rays, which effect the skin on a permanent basis. Hairless dogs are extremely exposed, so please consider using sun protection lotions!
Be a respectful dog owner!
Always bring bags with you and clean after your dog. Don't let your dog approach other people on the beach. Do not let your wet dog shake in the vicinity of other people. Do not let him bark excessively. Do not let him walk on other people's towels or blankets.
Well, naming 10 things just isn't enough, so I will continue this article describing some advice, some fun activities and dangers for your dog and you when having a day off at the beach. If you have any additional ideas, I'm all ears!
Be it a sandy beach, a rocky beach or a pebble stone beach, your dog's paws are being exposed to a new environment. Salty water, shellfish, snippy rocks, hot sand and potential sharp objects left by people can badly a dog's paws. They can get cut, burned with blisters or peeled off entirely. Besides your poor dog being in pain it is very hard having a dog with hurt paws. The wounds on the paws heal forever (3 weeks - 1 month). When cut, sometimes they need to be sewed with stitches. The dog still needs to be walked outside, which means the paws are at great risk of getting infected. You don't want that! Rather get your dog two pairs of protecting boots before it is too late. If his paws get hurt, you'll have to buy them anyway! If you are ashamed having "a dog in the boots" or if you thing the boots are driving your dog crazy, try the "invisible boots" protecting membrane! It works!
Remember when you made a few steps from your towel to the water without flip-flops and were jumping as if walking on fire? Or did you ever naively go running bare feet on a sand beach? There is a reason why we use sand on sandpaper. And the sand doesn't only rub your feet, you can get burned by it easily. Now think of your dog! Of course their paws are much more resistant, but you should not forget to pay attention to the well-being of your four-legged friend. Last time when walking from the parking lot to the beach, I was frustrated about being dragged around by my leashed dog. Then I took off my shoe and put my foot on the hot dark asphalt at 2pm. Of course she was dragging me around! In her place I'd be screaming too! Please don't be like me and don't forget about your dog's bare paws.
Health and Security
Dogs are very curious animals, especially young ones, so be careful your buddy doesn't swallow a piece of an old flip-flop or get poisoned by eating a dead fish. On many beaches old cans and broken glass lies around, which are hazard for the dogs paws and legs when running over them. When traveling to exotic places be cautious about dangerous or poisonous animals (fish, snakes, spiders, jellyfish etc.). I know my dog would just have to try to play with it. So what I recommend for any dog owner at any beach (or when making a trip) is to bring the first aid kit for dogs. If something happens, you'll have a great feeling for being prepared - trust me!
Rinse your dog with tap water
This is very important! Althow sea water isn't harmful for your dog's skin when swimming, it is recommended to rinse him off with fresh water after it. The minerals and salt could cause damage to his skin and coat. After rinsing let him make a coupple of rounds to dry up a bit and then continue with a dog towel. Dog towels are made of micro fibre and therefore thin, light, easy to wash and get dry quickly.
Update: I learned recently that rinsing of your dog after swimming in salty water isn't necessary unless he starts scratching and showing discomfort. And of course if his skin and coat don't get changed. Less work for many dog owners - yay!
Going to the beach isn't all about lying and catching sun, reading a chapter or two. You can have a great time doing some sports as well. I just returned from a surf vacation, where I, of course, also took my dog. I bought a cheap bodyboard for her (and me :) ) and let her catch the foams. It is great fun and can be a good replacement for a walk. It is also a good way to keep your dog cool and happy. I only need to figure out how to stop her from drinking sea water :S
Boogieboards for everyone - Floating fun
Believe it or not, if my dog had the chance to choose between all the toys in the world, the tennis ball would still take the first place. Every day I am amazed about her fascination about this toy. There is no other thing, not even food, which could replace it. The only problem that this toy has is that it is harmful to the dog's teeth. They get worn down and "sanded" so much, that eventually the dog can't use them any more. But don't be panicked - if your dog plays with the tennis ball only a few times a week, there will not be any harm. For all the other play-freaks a "good tennis ball" is now on stock: the non abrasive Kong tennis ball! Yey!
What I do for my living
- Work at height
Here you can learn about what I do for my living. If you have so many hobbies as I do, you need to work hard to earn enough :)