By Katy Cable-A 3 min. Read
😎Here in So. Cal it seems we get more clouds, drizzle and chill in summer than we do in spring. Still, now that the summer is in high gear, and quarantine has lifted, people are more excited than ever to get out to the beach with their dogs. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed one too many tragedies that could’ve easily been avoided. Therefore, I felt it was important to share tips on how to help your dog keep their cool at the beach.
I live a short walk from Rosie’s Dog Beach, one of the most popular beaches for DOGS in Southern California. Long stretches of fine, white sand, gentle waves, easy parking, drinking fountains, restrooms, showers and a snack bar make this the ideal destination for people and their pups. Rain or shine! And, as with most popular spots, I have seen me too many preventable tragedies. So, in addition to safety tips, during warmer weather, it’s also very important for everyone to be aware of the signs of overheating.
Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds (dogs with flat faces and short noses, such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, Pekinese, and Shih-tzus), older pets, dogs that are ill or have a chronic health condition, and dogs not used to warm weather are extremely susceptible to overheating so be mindful of the following signs:
🌞Heavy panting or rapid breathing
🌞Elevated body temperature
🌞Bright or dark red tongue and gums
🌞Increased pulse and heartbeat
If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms you need to to start cooling them down immediately and keep close watch on their behavior.
Take your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic IMMEDIATELY if you notice any of the following SIGNS OF LIFE-THREATENING OVERHEATING:
❌Weakness and collapse
Now that you’re aware of the warning signs here’s how to keep your pup from getting overheated in the first place.
⛱ BEACH SAFETY 101 ⛱
Before you head out for the beach, I recommend bringing an umbrella, tent or Easy-Up so you have a shady spot for your dog to retreat from the sun. You’ll also want to bring 2 large towels or blankets. It's good idea to have one for your dog to lay on as well as one you can soak and use to cool your dog off if they get overheated.
If the sand, or pavement is burning your tootsies, you can bet it will burn your doggie's paws. Make sure you put them in booties or socks if they’re too large a dog to carry across the hot surface.
Fresh drinking water and a bowl are MUSTS! Always have fresh water to keep your doggie hydrated and also so they are not tempted to drink seawater or from pools of standing water which may be filthy. Also communal water bowls can provide a lot more than hydration in the form of parasites and nasty doggy germs. Have your own bowl of water handy.
Many people don't realize dogs are susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer. The most sensitive dogs are:
and if course hairless dogs.
For those breeds, I recommend staying OUT of the sun on extremely hot days and during peak hours (10AM-3PM). The best protection is to dress your dog in a T-shirt, sun-shirt with UV protection or a cooling vest which shields from harmful rays and keeps dogs from overheating.
I also advise getting a sunscreen for your dog. Make sure the sunscreen is a formula safe for dogs. Human sunscreens can contain ingredients (such as zinc) which are toxic if ingested. Be sure to cover your dog's nose, ears, belly, and inside hind legs.
Along with sun safety, you'll need to be equally prepared to keep your sweetie safe in the water. Surf Gidget the Pug, makes it look easy, but Pugs, and several other breeds are not strong swimmers (actually they're genetically designed to sink like stones!) I would recommend a life vest if you're out at the beach, in a boat or on open water. Even with a life vest you must supervise your dog in the water. An unexpected wave, rip current, rapids or even stepping on a dead bee, sharp coral or jellyfish can be major hazards.
It goes without saying if your dog may be sick, is lethargic, has the runs, or is in heat, do not visit the beach, dog park or any other public dog area.
Hold off on visiting a dog beach or park until your dog is trusted to obey commands. If you are dog sitting, or have a new shelter/rescue dog, this may pose too much risk until you are more familiar with your pet. Many people love letting their dogs run around off-leash (I'm one of them) but it can be a major hazard. If your dog isn't consistent with following your commands, I recommend you wait until they’re better trained. It can extremely dangerous if your dog is racing down the beach and not minding your call and a threatening situation arises.
And finally, just a few “Golden Rules” for the dog beach. Remember beaches depend on all of us to keep them safe and clean. Bring waste disposal bags, -and maybe a few extras for those who may not be prepared. Be the bigger person who picks up and takes care of keeping the beach safe and clean. So many people don’t.
Be attentive to your dog. This is not the time or place to relax with a good book or your nose in your Social media feed. Be on the lookout. A fun run down the beach chasing a ball can quickly turn to an aggressive dog fight. If you notice play getting a bit rough and you’re concerned, call your dog and distract them with some one-one-one play.
Also, be mindful of how much time you spend in the great outdoors. Too many hours can result in dehydration, overheating and other problems.
If everyone adheres to some basic safety precautions we can cut down on a lot of injuries. Let's keep dog friendly beaches a fun place to make memories. See you at the beach.⛱
Pugs & kisses 😘
-Katy Cable & Olive