SACRAMENTO, Calif — It's summertime and people and dogs alike want to have fun as a family. If you are taking a trip to the beach there are a few things to keep in mind to keep your dog safe and healthy.
Emma Grigg, a certified applied animal behaviorist and lecturer for University of California, Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine, shared some insights as to what dog owners should keep in mind when visiting the beach:
1. Keep them cool
Grigg said that for many pets going to the beach is a new thing or something they are not used to. If given a lot of room to play, Grigg said your dog may not stop themselves from overexertion.
"Being outside and exercising in the heat can really wear a dog out," Grigg said.
She said to look out for if your dog is being more lethargic, panting excessively and possibly if his or her skin is flushed. Grigg said that if your dog has really red gums or their skin is flushed, this is an extreme sign of heat exhaustion.
"Cool them down with ice packs or a cool towel and get them to the doctors," Grigg said.
Grigg said that before dogs get too hot to the point of panting, owners should stop the play time and bring them on a leash and help them cool off. She added that severe heat stroke for dogs could lead to serious problems like a coma.
Another thing to look out for, Grigg added, is the temperature of the sand.
"We have shoes and they don't," Grigg said.
Grigg suggests that owners try to bring their dogs to the beach only when the weather is cool, in the morning or evening.
Grigg added that beachgoers should completely avoid keeping their dogs in the car. She said that even if you leave the air conditioning on in the car, people around may not know that, and in fear that your dog is unsafe could break your car window.
2. Watch what they drink
Grigg said that owners should make sure to bring their own water for their dog to drink. Although there is a lot of water on the beach, dogs shouldn't be drinking it.
Saltwater toxicity, according to Animal Poison Control Center, can cause moderate to severe harm to a dog and could even result in death.
"If you see them drinking saltwater, it probably wasn't for too long if you are watching them," Grigg said. "Stop them immediately, give them some fresh water, and call your vet to check what you should do."
Grigg said that dogs could suffer from severe dehydration or fall into a coma from drinking too much salt water. The first signs owners should look for include vomiting, shaking, loss of appetite and loss of balance.
Grigg also added that even if there is a freshwater creek nearby, dogs should not drink from it. She said there could be contaminants in the water that not be safe for dogs to consume.
3. Follow leash laws
As with everywhere, owners should follow regular leash laws. Grigg said that taking your dog off the leash can pose a risk to other dogs, people, and your dog, too, if other dogs are not friendly or your dog gets in trouble.
"If you are at a dog-friendly beach, all the normal dog park rules apply," Grigg said.
Grigg said that if your dog is playing with another dog, owners should make sure the play is reciprocal.
"There should be turns taken in playing for dogs," Grigg said. "If one dog is being chased, they should also be chasing the other dog after a while."
4. Make sure they are having fun
Grigg said that, as with all experiences, owners should check their dog's body language to determine if they are enjoying their time at the beach or if they would rather go home. She said that dogs who are enjoying the beach will:
- look relaxed
- hang their tongue out
- wag their tails
Grigg said that people can often tell if their dog is not having a good time. Some of the key signs that your dog may not be having a good time include:
- tucking in their tail
- keeping their mouth closed
- trying to look away from what's making them uncomfortable
- tucking their ears back if they are usually perked up
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