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Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe at the Beach

Jana worked in animal welfare with abused and unwanted pets. She loves sharing her hands-on experience regarding domestic and wild critters.


When the Beach Goes to the Darkside

Alright, no beach is evil because it wants to be. Due to natural cycles and human pollution, there are certain dangers one needs to stay aware of. A basic level of beach savvy is necessary since such fun spoilers apply to both humans and pets. Your dog can still run like a movie character over coconut-scented sand. It needn't be left at home while the family enjoys a trip to the beach. This article will point out the dangers, both hidden and that which is common sense, to help prevent a holiday gutted by a pet tragedy.

No Dogs Allowed

Many seaside locations do not allow dogs on the beach. Reasons include hygiene—most owners don't bother to pick up after their dogs following a “bathroom” moment. Canines that run loose like maniacs can also be a public nuisance, and some areas have protected wildlife and plants that may be destroyed by domestic pets. Before heading out to the beach, check beforehand whether dogs are welcome. Never just assume they are allowed. At certain places, owners can face heavy fines for breaking the law.

A Doggy Bag

Consider taking along the following safety-related items:

  • Bottled water and bowl.
  • Leash or harness.
  • A basic first-aid kit that might include sharp scissors, a bandage, towel, a safe antiseptic, allergy medications obtained from a vet, and a muzzle (some dogs turn into fear-biters when injured.)

Always remember, when a dog is seriously injured, becomes sick, or swallowed something questionable, it should go straight to the vet. The mystery objects dogs gulp down at the beach are particularly lethal.

Look Out for Trash

Trash is responsible for many pet injuries and deaths, especially glass and pieces of metal.

Trash is responsible for many pet injuries and deaths, especially glass and pieces of metal.

Anglers can accidentally—and not so accidentally—drop fishhooks, bait and the remains of a catch cleaned right there on the beach. The danger of fishhooks is a big one. Apart from the risk of stepping on one, they smell fishy and often retain scraps of organic bait. This might prove irresistible and cause a dog to swallow the sharp piece of metal. This painful threat borders on the fatal and the animal must be rushed to a vet to prevent pierced intestines. To keep your dog safe, also look for pieces of bait or cleaned fish. Dogs get sick when they eat anything that's been decaying in the sun for days, but sea-related “snacks” can be particularly dangerous.

Additional safety risks include:

  • Dangerous objects hidden in the sand: broken glass, rusted items, syringe needles, personal items lost by visitors, or a smoldering cigarette.
  • Visible and attractive options for your dog: food wrappers, plastic, discarded bones from someone's fast food meal, to name but a few.

Threats From Other Dogs

Here, the problem can be direct (dog-on-dog aggression) or indirect (disease left on the beach by other dogs). Unfortunately, some owners take aggressive pets along, and worse, allow them to run free. Most dogs that visit the beach are quite socialized but even so, keep an eye out for trouble.

It's a fact that dogs do their business on the beach. Responsible owners pick up after their pets, but few can really mop up after urine. Sick dogs can shed serious diseases such as parvovirus and distemper, two painful and deadly conditions that can survive in the sand for quite some time. Preventive vaccinations exist for both, but sometimes distemper manages to manifest in dogs that are up to date with their shots.

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Dangerous Animals

This is the bluebottle jellyfish, also known as the man 'o war. It kills several people each year.

This is the bluebottle jellyfish, also known as the man 'o war. It kills several people each year.

Natural Dangers

Every beach is different, but here are the general things one can expect.

  • The remains of dead sea creatures. Similar to bait and cleaned fish tripe, naturally washed-up bodies can also decompose for days and make a dog very sick.
  • Watch out for places frequented by jellyfish. Bluebottles, in particular, are abundant and come with a terrible sting. They have a tendency to wash up in large numbers and can still zap a dog's paws and curious nose.
  • Strong waves and rip tides. Don't allow your dog to go into the water. Apart from stepping on sharp objects, dodging jellies, currents can grab a dog and waves might cause ear and eye infections.
  • Check the weather. Sunstroke is a problem for active dogs like Border Collies or smaller breeds that tend to overheat.

Good Precautions, Good Times

The thought of visiting the beach with your dog needn't be a scary one. All these threats on one page seem like a lot, but some people go to the beach with their pets and never encounter a problem. In a nutshell, prepare beforehand: vaccinations, knowing exactly where the local vet is and a leash. The latter allows better control over the dog's safety. Enjoy your time at the shore, just keep an eye out for anything that might pose a danger. Afterwards, free your pet's skin, hair, and paws of sand and salt. Also, clean the ears and eyes. You can have many happy visits to the beach and take your best friend along. All you need are a few simple measures and a keen eye.

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit


Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on September 20, 2018:

Hi Cecil. Yes, we tend to forget the first aid things for our pets and sometimes that leads to more suffering than necessary. Thanks you so much for your feedback. :)

Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on September 20, 2018:

Hi Ethel. Thanks for the feedback. Both my dogs hate the sand and the waves! So, I just take them along the sidewalk closest the beach. ;)

Cecil Kenmill from Osaka, Japan on September 19, 2018:

Good information here, especially the first aid stuff!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on September 14, 2018:

Useful informative hub thank you Jana

On our re pcent vacation with the dog there were still a few dog friendly beaches but our little chap hates sand and the sea

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