Who doesn't love a day at the beach - soaking up the sun, building sandcastles, surfing the waves? The only thing that could make the day better is sharing it with your pooch. Our dogs would certainly enjoy frolicking in the surf and digging in the sand, but did you know there are quite a few beach dangers to our dogs? We've put together the top beach dangers and how to avoid them.
Top Beach Dangers
Here are our top five beach dangers to dogs and what you can do to prevent your pooch from getting into trouble.
When our pooches are thirsty they will drink almost anything - they're not fussy. This includes sea water. Drinking a large amount of salt water can lead to salt toxicity, otherwise known as hypernatremia. This occurs when there is too much sodium in the blood. Just from playing at the beach, you dog can ingest quite a bit of salt, from swallowing too much when swimming, to picking up and chewing on toys that have been soaked from the sea.
Signs of salt toxicity include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion, seizures, and can lead to coma. To avoid your pet ingesting too much salt water at the beach always make fresh water available so they don't feel tempted to drink from the sea. It's also a good idea to rinse them off before leaving the beach rather than letting the sea water dry on their coat. This will prevent your pooch from licking the salt water from their fur and ingesting more salt.
Sand is unavoidable at the beach; it gets everywhere, you might even find you bring some home with you! Playing at the beach can lead to your pup eating sand - mostly by accident, however some pooches may do it purposefully. Picking up toys covered in sand, happily digging in the sand, and eating something tasty that has fallen onto the sand - all mean sand will be ingested. However, if too much sand is ingested it can lead to sand impaction. This is when the sand causes a blockage in the intestines.
X-ray of what sand impaction looks likes
If your pup is vomiting, seems to be constipated, has abdominal pain, loss of appetite, or lethargy after a visit to the beach, it may indicate sand has been ingested. Depending on how much sand has been ingested, hospitalisation may be required. The important aspects of treatment include fluid therapy or medication to assist in moving the sand along the intestines. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.
As sand ingestion is often accidental, it can be a challenge to avoid a case of sand impaction. Monitoring your pet while at the beach, limiting access to sand pits, and teaching your pooch the leave command to prevent them eating unwanted things, such as a sausage that has fallen on the sand.
While the sea breeze may feel refreshing, the temperature can certainly sky rocket at the beach. Combine high temperatures with hot sand and little shade, the chances of your pet developing heat stroke is very real. Dogs can't release heat like us humans and can overheat very quickly, nor can they tell us when they're hot. To help your pooch avoid heat stroke make sure to provide your them with enough shade and plenty of fresh drinking water. As well as limiting excessive exercise. It's also a good idea to avoid the beach during the hottest parts of the day. For more tips on avoiding heat stroke, and the signs and symptoms to be aware of, visit our Heat Stroke Guide.
Even our pooches can get sunburned. Their noses, ears and stomach are the most likely places to become burnt. Dogs with thin coats or white fur are also more at risk to the sun's rays than others. To prevent a nasty case of sunburn, provide your pooch with an umbrella or beach tent to cool off under, and pet sunscreen might be a good idea to invest in if you dog loves time in the sun.
Whether you're an angler with a furry fishing companion or someone who walks their pet near a popular fishing spot, it's a good idea to know how to avoid a fishing accident and what to do if your pet gets hooked. It only takes an instant - your pooch sniffs out and snacks on bait or a fish attached to a hook and the hook ends up stuck in their mouth, throat, stomach, or embedded in their skin.
X-ray of a dog who swallowed a fish hook
If your dog swallows a fish hook, do your best to keep them calm and seek veterinary assistance immediately. If the fish hook is embedded in the paw, pierced through their lip, or stuck anywhere else on their body, cover the area so you pet doesn't gnaw, lick or tug at the hook to prevent the injury from worsening. If there is fishing line hanging from their mouth it is best not trying to removing it and avoid pulling on it as it can cause further injuries if it has been swallowed.
While they may look relatively harmless, puffer fish contain tetrodotoxin in their skin and organs, one of the world deadliest natural poisons. If ingested it can be fatal to both humans and pets.
During the spring and summer months, puffer fish toxicity is fairly common, however with our warm climate we can see these poisonings year-round. The abundance of dog friendly beaches, canals and rivers means our dogs, and cats, have access to this fish, either when they wash up on shore or have been caught and discarded by fishermen. It's always best to closely supervise your pooch when at the beach and waterways.
If you suspect your pooch has come in contact with a puffer fish or they are showing any signs of poisoning, such as vomiting, trembling, drooling, breathing difficulty, weakness or paralysis, visit your vet immediately. Puffer fish poison is fast acting and symptoms worsen quickly. See our blog on puffer fish to learn more about symptoms and what the treatment is.
While there are many dangers to be aware of, with a little bit of precaution a trip to the beach is a great way to spend time with your pooch. And with the many dog friendly beaches up and down the coast why not plan an outing this weekend?