Summer time is beach time — and nobody enjoys a day full of sun, sand and surf more than dogs. But beach excursions are not without their share of troubles if pet parents are not careful. Too many things can potentially go wrong if dogs are left to play and swim without supervision. According to Petplan pet insurance, the number of claims increases exponentially during summer months because of accidents and health problems caused by a day out at the beach.
To make sure that your pet is always safe and everybody gets to enjoy their summer weekend by the sea without having to suffer any consequences, we are compiling the 6 biggest risks you should be aware of when taking your pet to the beach:
# 1: DRY DROWNING
Dry drowning occurs when a dog accidentally aspirates (inhales) a significant amount of water while struggling to swim. Even if the animal is saved from near-drowning and all seems to be well, there could be a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) that can obstruct the ability to breathe, hours and even days after the near-drowning incident. The consequences of dry drowning can be fatal if you cannot get medical help in time.
Stay vigilant when your dog is playing the water, and be aware that not all dogs are born swimmers. Bulldogs, basset hounds, corgis, pugs and dachshunds, for example, are some breeds that don’t have sea legs, so you shouldn’t encourage them to go chasing waves when you’re out on the beach.
# 2: SUNBURN
Yes, dogs are as susceptible to sunburn as human beings. Symptoms of canine sunburn are dry, cracked, red skin that is sensitive to the touch, curling at the edges of the ears, and in some cases, fever. Certain dogs are more at risk than others – such as shorthaired, hairless, white or light-colored breeds – but every dog has exposed parts that need to be protected if he/she is going to spend a significant amount of time at the beach. Apply sunscreen to the bridge of the nose, ear tips, belly and inside the legs before you allow your dog to play in the hot sand. Make sure to use sunscreen that is specially formulated for pets because sunscreen for humans sometimes contains zinc oxide that is poisonous for dogs if ingested. And be careful about burnt paws at well. Lay out a damp towel or blanket, so your pet can get off the hot sand when it’s paws are starting to get affected.
# 3: EATING SAND
Dogs like to play in the sand, and many of them like to eat it too. A little bit of sand entering their digestive system can pass out without any major issues, but if they accidentally eat quite a bit of it, they may suffer from constipation, repeated vomiting, distended belly and extreme abdominal pain. Diagnosis and treatment can involve X-rays, re-hydration procedures, antibiotics and even surgery, so it is important that you make sure your pet does not get an opportunity to eat sand.
# 4: DRINKING SEAWATER
Don’t allow your dog to drink seawater either. Besides diarrhea, too much salt can cause an electrolyte imbalance that in turn can lead to some serious health-related issues like kidney and brain damage. Make sure you offer clean drinking water to your pet from time to time at the beach, so he/she doesn’t think of drinking seawater when thirsty.
# 5: UPSET STOMACH
Dogs can get sick from eating dead crabs, fish, shellfish and even bird feces they find while running around on the beach.
# 6: HEAT SICKNESS
Heatstroke is the most common health threat when taking a dog to the beach, and can affect your pet in as little as 15 minutes. Choose not to go to the beach during the hottest times of the day, and control your pet’s exposure to the sun. Offer plenty of water to cool off and hydrate, and plenty of breaks in the shade.
Stay safe, and have fun!