When summer comes, it’s totally natural to want to run to somewhere warm and sandy with your best friend, your confidant, your snuggle buddy. And, obviously, I’m talking about your dog. Is there anyone more important in your life? Any better beach companion? I think not. Taking your dog to the beach can be an amazing way for both you and your furry friend to have a bit of a frolic and maybe even a swim. It can be a great way to pass a summer day, but — as a responsible pup parent — it’s important that you stay informed and put your pup’s safety first.
Although taking your dog to the beach sounds like it’s all fun and games — and in many ways, it can be — there are also some safety precautions you may need to take and some dog-related beach musts to be aware of. A lot can happen at the beach, especially if it’s a busy day when the weather is particularly hot. From overheating to being overwhelmed from interacting with strangers to knowing whether or not your dog is actually safe in the water, make sure to do your research. And if you’re not sure where to start, here are nine things you need to know before you bring your dog to the beach, because you want it to be a fun day out for both of you.
1. You Need Time To Bond
Firstly, if you just got your pup it's tempting to run right to having some summer fun — it may even seem like a good bonding opportunity. But, like any important relationship, it’s important to take it slow. "Just let your dog adjust," Kayla Fratt, an associate certified dog behavior consultant at Journey Dog Training, previously told Bustle. Make sure your dog feels comfortable and you and your pup have gotten used to each other’s quirks before you head to somewhere crowded and full of strangers.
2. Deal With Behavior Issues *Before* If You Can
If your dog has any behavioral issues, it’s best if you get them under control before a big outing — especially somewhere where might be kids present. "When it comes to dog behavior such as incessant barking, leash pulling, aggressive behavior, jumping, and other ... issues, owners tend to ignore or don't know how to manage it," Mike Ritland, K9 expert, author, and founder of Team Dog Online, previously told Bustle. "Owners should nip bad dog behavior in the bud through clear communication and other techniques." Make sure that you feel comfortable bringing your dog somewhere with crowds and children.
3. Not All Dogs Can Swim
This may come as a surprise — it did to me — but not all dogs can actually swim. PetMD reports that certain breeds just cannot swim — sorry, bulldogs. Don't assume swimming will be easy or even possible for your dogs, especially if they have short legs or don't weigh very much.
The good news? Dog flotation devices are a thing that may help your pet stay safe in the water, but you want to be very sure that you’re not putting your pet’s safety at risk — so always ask a vet if you’re not sure. Every dog is different.
4. Too Much Sun Can Be A Big Issue
Sun and heat are the biggest things to be aware of if you take your dog to the beach. Even if you want to spend the whole day frolicking in the sun, it might not be the best thing for ol' Fido. Alex Osorio, managing veterinary technician of Fetch My Vet, previously told Bustle that "owners should limit the amount of time that their pet(s) are outside if the temperatures are extremely hot."
Make sure that lots of shade is available to your dog — and yes, dog umbrella hats are a real thing, just saying. It's also important to know the signs of heatstroke and get your pup to a vet if you have any concerns.
5. Shaving Your Dog Isn't Always Best For Summer
You may assume that giving your dog a haircut is a great way to keep them from getting overheated, but actually, the opposite can be true. "Long fur acts as a protective barrier," Jonathan Rose, managing director of Aurora Pets, previously told Bustle. "So instead you can use a brush to lighten the under fur layers and provide a lighter coat."
6. More Water Is Key
Having water on hand at the beach is so important — and you may need more than you think. "Heavy breathing and sweating increase a dog’s need for water, especially if [they are] playing or walking in the sun," Aimee Gilbreath, executive director of Michelson Found Animals, previously told Bustle. "In general, dogs should be drinking one ounce of water for each pound of body weight every day and more when they’re active."
Make sure that you’re keeping their water clean and that it’s readily available.
7. Their Eyes Might Need Protection
If it’s a really sunny day, you may want to consider doggy eye protection. "There are eye protection options available that are designed specifically for dogs, such as hats, visors, and goggles," Dr. Whitney Miller, director of veterinary medicine at Petco, previously told Bustle. "These should definitely be considered whenever a dog will have high exposure to direct sunlight or reflective sun exposure, like during water activities." Also, they are super cute — imagine your dog in goggles. Imagine that right now. It’s just too much for words.
8. It's Important To Know Your Foods
A day at the beach can be chaotic — with lots of people and picnic foods everywhere. If your dog has a tendency to eat whatever they find, it's important that you keep an eye on them. There are lots of foods that dogs shouldn't eat — grapes, tomatoes, apple cores. As a pet owner it helps to be aware, but also to remember that non-pet owners might not realize what dogs can't eat. You don't want a child at the beach accidentally giving toxic food to your pup, so make sure you're keeping a close watch.
9. Pup Sunscreen Is A Thing
Did you know that dogs can get sunburn? Luckily, many human sunscreens work on dogs — if you know the right ones to look for. "But it is extremely important to use the right cream that doesn't contain zinc oxide," Rose told Bustle. "Most [sunscreens] for human babies are safe for dogs as they do not contain this ingredient that is toxic for pets." When in doubt, head to your local pet store — they should have some dog-friendly options.
Taking your dog to the beach can be, well, a walk at the beach — if you're prepared. Make sure your dog is ready to deal with a beach and keep an eye on them in the sun and in the water. They are basically your child, after all. Just treat them like the fragile bundle of joy that they are.