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Healthy Dog: Beach Day

Updated on January 11, 2016

First Things First

If you are lucky enough to have a dog and live within driving distance to the beach you should take advantage of your good fortune. If you are within walking distance I am very jealous. Chances are your dog will love the beach. Now, it is important to note that I did not say ocean. Not all dogs enjoy swimming let alone tolerate getting wet. However, most beaches have people. Nearly all dogs love people. A walk on the beach means meeting new friends. After all, what dog doesn't love to meet new people that love on them?

The first thing you need to do is find out where the pet friendly beaches are in your area. I'm very lucky in that there are three beaches near me, including one state park, that allow dogs year round. The oceanfront at Virginia Beach even allows dogs at the beach and the boardwalk, as long as it is not tourist season. What is really nice is there are quite a few restaurants at the oceanfront that allow dogs, in the outside areas of course.

In addition to knowing where you can take your dog you need to know what the requirements are. Are dogs required to stay on leash? Do they need to be up to date on rabies or other vaccines? Are negative fecal tests required? Does the dog need to be registered?

Preventive Care

As someone that works with animals, husbandry and veterinary, for a living I can tell you that it is a lot cheaper to stay up to date on preventive care than it is to treat. I strongly recommend that if you are going to have your dog around other dogs, or in an area where other dogs frequent, that you keep your dog up to date with their vaccines. In most places rabies is required by law, but parvo/distempter and the bordetella vaccines are good ideas since they project against diseases that are easily spread between dogs.

Some topical flea and tick treatments also protect against sandflies. If you have ever been bitten by sandflies then you know how annoying and painful they can be. Personally, if there is a way for me to prevent my little girl from going through that I'm all for it.

As always, it is a good idea to pick up after your dog. It keeps the beach clean, reduces unpleasant smells, and prevents the spread of disease.

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First Landing State Park is one of my favorite places to take Karma. Most everyone there is nice and dog friendly. Which, Karma loves.It took us nearly fifteen minutes to actually get to the beach the first time she went.Getting her to sit still, even when tired, is nearly impossible Washed up sea life is great stimulation, so long as your dog doesn't eat it. This is Karma investigating a horseshoe crab molt.Some days a relaxing walk on the beach is all you need.
First Landing State Park is one of my favorite places to take Karma. Most everyone there is nice and dog friendly. Which, Karma loves.
First Landing State Park is one of my favorite places to take Karma. Most everyone there is nice and dog friendly. Which, Karma loves.
It took us nearly fifteen minutes to actually get to the beach the first time she went.
It took us nearly fifteen minutes to actually get to the beach the first time she went.
Getting her to sit still, even when tired, is nearly impossible
Getting her to sit still, even when tired, is nearly impossible
Washed up sea life is great stimulation, so long as your dog doesn't eat it. This is Karma investigating a horseshoe crab molt.
Washed up sea life is great stimulation, so long as your dog doesn't eat it. This is Karma investigating a horseshoe crab molt.
Some days a relaxing walk on the beach is all you need.
Some days a relaxing walk on the beach is all you need.

Do you take your dog to the beach

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What to Bring

Now that you have all the technical things sorted out you need to make sure you have what you need to make sure you and your four legged friend can enjoy the day. What exactly do you need?

  • Water. Drinking seawater is just as bad for dogs as it is for people. It can cause severe dehydration and diarrhea. I typically bring a bottle for myself and two for Karma.
  • Shade. Umbrellas, pop up tent, palm trees. Whatever. You might want to work on your tan, but that doesn't mean your dog does. The shade will also help to keep your pet cool and prevent over heating.
  • Toys. A ball to throw or a rope for tug. Frisbees are very popular with dogs and people at the beach.
  • Blankets or towels. For sitting and for drying off after some fun in the water.

The Problems of Overheating

If you believe that your dog is overheated get them out of the sun immediately. If you have your vets number saved in your phone call them and follow their advice. Make sure that your pet has plenty of cool water to drink if they are willing to drink. You can try pouring cool water over the inside of the hind legs to help cool your dog. The most important thing you can do is get your dog in a cool place, such as inside a building or in a car with the a/c on full blast. Chances are good that if your dog has overheated it is also severely dehydrated. Getting your dog to a veterinary facility is a good idea.

Other Things to Consider

Not all breeds enjoy being in the water. Many small breeds, like chihuahuas, French bulldogs, or dachshunds are not overly fond of swimming. Karma is a mix between Boston terrier and French bulldog. She isn't a fan of swimming, but does love to walk in the water.

Dogs with smushy faces, think boxer, Boston terrier, pugs and things along that nature, tend to get over heated easily. That doesn't mean that these dogs can't enjoy a day at the beach too. For these dogs it is best to limit the amount of time outside or go during cooler hours, such as morning or evening.

Breeds of dogs that aren't known for being the best of swimmers can still enjoy the water. Dog lifejackets can be a good idea. However, nothing is as safe as keeping a close eye on your dog while they are in the water.

Getting Home

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After her first trip to the beach Karma was exhausted, and slept the whole way home. But, just look at that smile!Putting a towel down helps keep my car sand free, and as an added bonus Karma likes to lay on towels when she's wet.Beach day is now Karma's favorite day of the week.
After her first trip to the beach Karma was exhausted, and slept the whole way home. But, just look at that smile!
After her first trip to the beach Karma was exhausted, and slept the whole way home. But, just look at that smile!
Putting a towel down helps keep my car sand free, and as an added bonus Karma likes to lay on towels when she's wet.
Putting a towel down helps keep my car sand free, and as an added bonus Karma likes to lay on towels when she's wet.
Beach day is now Karma's favorite day of the week.
Beach day is now Karma's favorite day of the week.

Dogs at the Beach

Did You Know??

  • Dogs can get sunburns too. Typically this is seen in light colored, short haired dogs. Many pet stores sell sunscreen for dogs. I'm not a huge fan of using sprays on dogs, as they can get in the eyes and then you have another problem.
  • Eye protection is important for dogs too. The sun can damage a dog's eyes just like it can for human eyes. Dog's also can't see well underwater, just like people. Sunglasses and goggles exist for dogs.
  • It can be easier for dogs to drink from a water bottle (like the one above) than a bowl at the beach. Why? Bowls can be tipped over or get sand in them. The water bottle can be knocked over but not spill, and you don't have to worry about your dog getting sand in their water.
  • Getting the dried salt and sand out of your dog's coat is important when you get home. It keeps your dog clean and healthy, and not to mention keeps them smelling better then wet dog.

After the Bath

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Each beach trip is followed up with bath time and then snuggle time.Karma always sleeps so well after her beach trips.
Each beach trip is followed up with bath time and then snuggle time.
Each beach trip is followed up with bath time and then snuggle time.
Karma always sleeps so well after her beach trips.
Karma always sleeps so well after her beach trips.

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    • daxamite profile image

      James Livingood 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I did not know about the sunburn!

      Some of the best doggy days are when you can get a group of friends and their dogs together to run leash free at the beach. (They all have to have the proper manners / vaccines / training)

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