Dog Beach Days!
What better way to enjoy some summer fun than a day at the beach? Whether you live near an ocean, lake, or river, there are beaches all over the country that are open and ready for man’s best friend to run and splash to their heart’s content.
Some beaches are geared towards human guests, but allow dogs, while others are directly aimed towards dog entertainment. Dog beaches are a little different from regular beaches and will often have a separate set of rules; some legally binding, some unspoken. Here are a few tips to keep in mind on your trip to the beach this summer to ensure you and your pet stay safe and have a great time:
Follow leash laws and signs
Many dog beaches allow your pet to roam leash-free, but some do not. Keep a lookout for signs that state where it’s okay to let your pet wander without their leash, and where it’s not.
The leash rules are in place to protect your pet and others, so if you are being asked to keep the leash on, it’s usually for a reason. If your dog is unleashed when they shouldn’t be, it could be dangerous for your pet. A parking lot, for instance, is not a safe spot for your dog to run around, so signs might ask you to wait until you are on the sand to let your dog off their leash.
It can also be dangerous for others. Even if your dog is typically friendly and well-behaved, an encounter with an unfriendly animal or even a frightened human could lead to a bad outcome. On a beach that is not a dog-specific beach, leash rules are especially important to follow to make sure everyone feels safe and can enjoy the beach together.
We must always remember that dogs are animals and putting them in an unpredictable, unsafe environment could cause them to react in ways they might not normally. Always follow any leash rules to keep your dog and others safe.
Keep an eye out for hidden dangers
From animals to terrain, there are a number of things at the beach that could cause harm if you aren’t careful. Not to worry though—as long as you take the proper precautions and stay alert, the beach is a perfectly safe place for your dog to play.
There are a variety of wild animals at the beach that could pose harm to your dog. Always look for signs noting any type of wildlife that you need to watch out for. In rivers or lakes, snakes or alligators can pose a threat. In oceans, jellyfish, stingrays, and sharks could pose potential harm.
The good news is that these animals don’t want to harm you or your dog, so if you are aware of your surroundings and follow the beach rules, your dog should have no problems.
Another potential beach danger is the beach itself. Rocky or rough terrain could cause cuts or scrapes. Always check for items such as these before letting your dog run free.
When currents are strong, riptides can be an issue. Follow any signage or lifeguard warnings on strong currents, and be sure to keep your dog in the shallow if there is a potential for dangerous currents to occur.
Don’t let your dog swim too far away from you and never let them swim unattended.
Be sure to monitor the amount of beach water your dog is ingesting, too. Saltwater or even freshwater from a lake or river is not safe for pets to drink and can be lethal. In small quantities, it will usually be fine, but your dog could become extremely ill if they ingest too much, or if they ingest any harmful bacteria.
Bring fresh water
If you are spending the day running and swimming, your dog will need some freshwater to rehydrate. Ingesting even a little saltwater can dehydrate your dog even further, so make sure you pack some fresh water for them to drink. If you notice your dog has ingested any saltwater, offer them fresh water to offset the effects.
Bring along a large insulated water bottle and a small bowl so you can easily pour out some water for your dog. Offer them drinks throughout the day since they won’t be able to ask when they are thirsty. Many dog beaches also have water fountains if you need to refill.
Clean up after your pet
As is the case anywhere, it’s always important to clean up after your pet. If you spend a good amount of time at the beach, your dog will most likely need to use the bathroom while you’re there. Some dog beaches will supply plastic bags to clean up dog waste, but always bring some along with you just in case so that you are prepared to clean up after your pet.
Pet waste can be harmful to the environment and for your pet. It can contaminate water with bacteria, making it unsafe for you and your pet to swim. This type of pollution can kill off wildlife and lead to closed beaches. To keep the beach you love clean and safe for your dog and others, never leave pet waste on the beach.
Rinse and dry thoroughly
After a day of fun in the sun, you will need to clean your furry friend off. If there is a clean water source like a shower or hose at the beach, give your dog a good rinse before heading home. The sand can irritate their skin, and salt can dry it out. Plus, the sand can be a breeding ground for tiny mites that can leave your dog feeling itchy and uncomfortable. A good rinse can take care of all of that. It’s always a good idea to give your dog a nice scrub when you get home either way.
Make sure you pack an absorbent towel to ensure your pet is as dry as possible before you leave. This will keep them comfy on the drive home. It will also protect your car’s interior.
Always be sure to carefully dry your dog’s ears. Some dogs have ears that don’t allow for water to easily escape, leaving them susceptible to ear infections. Leaving water in your dog’s ears can breed bacteria, which can cause them serious pain and require a trip to the vet for a prescription if it leads to an infection.
To avoid this, gently dry your dog's ears inside and out with a clean towel. If your dog is prone to ear infections, you can also clean their inner ears with a specially-formulated cleaning solution when you return home. There are a variety of brands available at your local pet store that will dry up the water in your dog’s ear, which should help prevent infection.
Keep the beach at the beach
Many trips to the beach end with vacuuming the sand and/or water out of the floors and seats— but it doesn’t have to end that way! Laying down a towel or sheet will help, but won’t completely prevent water and sand from invading your seats.
Specially designed pet seat covers are available to keep water, sand, and hair from transferring from your pet to the car. They are usually made with a material that is waterproof and doesn’t attract fur and sand, making them easy to clean. Once you get home, you simply shake the cover out to remove any debris or toss it in the wash, if needed.
This type of protective seat cover is much better than a towel at preventing water from seeping into your seats, which should help prevent the inevitable musty smell. A special seat cover is a must-have item for anyone who likes to take their dog on adventures and wants to avoid spending time cleaning up afterward.
By staying alert, following rules, and packing smart, you and your dog are sure to have a great beach day every time.