Taking your dog to the beach can be a wonderful experience, as long as you're careful and plan things right. Otherwise, you might end up with an injured or sick dog or violate some regulation at your local beach. When in doubt, always keep in mind that if it gets too hot and uncomfortable for you, it probably feels the same way for your dog, even if the signs are not so obvious.
Beach Conditions and Regulations
Not all beaches allow dogs, and even those that do might have restrictions in place. Understanding your dog's personality is key in helping you choose the right beach for him. For example, if your dog loves to run, he'll enjoy a beach where he can take off without a leash. If he's the kind of dog who's just as happy walking around and smelling the surroundings, a leash-only beach might be enough. You should also check in advance what the water conditions are and whether there's jellyfish or how strong the currents are -- especially if you plan on letting your dog swim.
Slather On the Sunscreen
Dogs need sunscreen just as much as you do. At least, some do. Long-haired dogs are better protected against UV rays, but short-haired dogs and those who have just been shaved might be at risk of sunburn. White dogs and those with very pink skin are more sensitive to the sun. Especially risky are areas with no hair at all, such as the top of the nose and the inside of the ears. To protect your doggie before going to the beach, slather some dog-approved sunscreen --- available from your vet or pet store -- about 30 minutes before heading out into the sun.
Be Careful About Overheating
Take breaks getting out of the sun and into a cooler area every 30 minutes or so. Dogs can quickly overheat, especially if you're at the beach in the middle of the day. Either bring a large beach umbrella with you or identify shady spots in advance. Also be in the lookout for signs of overheating, such as drooling, rapid heartbeat and heavy panting.
Keep Your Dog Safe
The beach can bring unexpected dangers to dogs -- from sea and from sun. An out-of-shape or overweight dog can get injured running on the sand, so make sure you don't push your pooch too hard. Put him back on the leash if you need to slow him down. Also, give him something cool to drink every 10 to 15 minutes; otherwise, he might be tempted to drink seawater, which could make him sick.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.