Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Beach Dog Safety Tips

My Charlie
Summertime is full of so many wonderful things like play, vacation, and long days on the beach. When the sun gets scorching and the Summertime is in full swing its time to head to the sand and ocean waves! But, for many of us the same beach dangers that exist for our two legged children also exist for our four legged pets. Here are a few of my favorite tips as you prepare your whole family for a trip to the beach.

Vacation planning
There was a time when we would plan our whole four months of summer around our one week long trip to the ocean. We drove 8 hours just to plop our pasty white skin on the shores of the North Carolina beaches. Why drive so far when the nearest ocean is only an hour away? Well, because in NC you can bring your puppies on the beach. Even though I had my pups by my side I found that one week was full of worry.

Here are some of the beach hazards I worried about;

Yes, we all burn, whether it be human pasty previously covered all winter legs, and puppy noses included. Which left us servant to applying copious amounts of sunscreen and the ever adjusting the umbrella. Best Tip; Avoid the beach between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm. Sunrise and sunset walks are both safe and magnificent!

My pig Strawberry, whose favorite spot is in the sunshine

As the temperatures approach anything over 75 degrees F it is time to begin seeking shade and water. When your pet starts to pant they are telling you that they need to dissipate heat more efficiently and rapidly then they can normally.

It's not just the heat, it's also the humidity
We all know that the temperature on the thermometer is only part of the heat index equation. Wet, sticky days weigh us all down. If it is hot for you imagine what it feels like to a thick bodied, fur wearing pet who can only cool off by panting and sweating between hairy toes? The ocean breezes help to keep the heat and humidity down, but add the scorched sand, and the lack of cover and you might be forced to pick the cooler times of the day to visit, or keep yourself in the shade, under the wet sand, or floating in the ocean.

The sand is hot enough to burn your feet
Bring shoes and keep noses, toes, and bare skin off of the hot areas of the beach. The skin in the lower abdominal region of most pets is thinly haired and very susceptible to burning. Laying on any hot surface can burn.

Car rides
If you aren't staying in the car with them the entire time you are traveling then leave them safely at home. Stopping for even a few minutes can be deadly. There are no good options other than to stay with them in the car with the air conditioning on. Leaving your pet in a car even for a brief period of time can be deadly, will cost you a broken window, or a trip to the police department should some good Samaritan or busy body like myself stumble upon your car with your pet in it.

Be prepared
Bring lots of drinking water, a leash, a few poo bags, a towel to cover up with, an umbrella to stay in the shade, and beach safe toys. Play is a wonderful way to share time together but be cautious to keep cool and not over play or over heat. Ideally, play with a wet pup. The quickest way to stay cool is to keep the entire undercarriage wet. Panting excessively indicates a water soak, and rest until the panting slows. This may take 30  to 60 minutes. A purple, blue, or lethargic pet is an emergency.
Did I ever tell you the story about our 8 hour drive to the beach when we lost the A/C in the car on a 110 degree day? The dogs got so hot I was afraid they would succumb to heat exhaustion. Our choices were to find a hotel that allowed three dogs to stay until the sun went down, OR, fill the back of the car with 5 pound ice bags. We couldn't find a hotel, so the back of the Jeep turned into a frosty slumber party of pups.

The frozen popsicles can save the day
Kids and pups alike. Frozen water with a little bit of canned food, or even a tiny bit of cottage cheese for the pups, flavoring for the kids.

Fireworks frenzy
The loud popping of fireworks frightens most pets. More pets are lost around the Fourth of July due to fleeing the scene of a fireworks display than any other day of the year. Keep your pups inside a crate with a heavy (noise-dampening) blanket. Pets feel safer in small quiet places. Do not take them with you to fairs, or fireworks events. And, as always make sure that your pet is microchipped and that the microchip information is up to date.

The ocean can is its own monster
Pets are often afraid of the waves, the movement and the power of the tides. Be very careful swimming pets in pounding surf, and the same rip tides that can drown people can also be hazardous and fatal to pets. Pets are also inherently driven to drink moving water. Trying to train your fledgling pups to not ingest saltwater is difficult. Keep your pet on a leash, even a long leash at all times. If they are swimming you are best safely anchored on shore. Pets swimming in surf, riding surfboards, or sightseeing in ocean kayaks should always be fitted with life preservers.

If you have other beach safety tips to add please leave a comment.

Pleas also join me at Pawbly is a place dedicated to helping other pets in need and is free for all to use. You can also find me at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet in Jarrettsville, Maryland, or on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

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