An entrance guard at Myrtle Beach State Park told me that the beach was open to dogs before 10 am and after 5 pm. She warned that the sand gets too hot in the middle of the day and could
burn my dog’s paws. Have you ever thought about the hot sand on your dog’s paws while you run down to the water in your flip-flops or sandals? I know I’ve come close to burning my feet a few times. So think about your dog’s paws too.
- Watch to see if your dog licks their paws–she might have stepped on something sharp.
- Bring cool drinking water for your dog. Salt water is nasty to drink and I’m sure your dog will try to drink it, especially if they’re used to wading into freshwater lakes.
- Keep your dog on a leash. It’s scary to have a strange, loose dog run up to you since you don’t know how it will react. Leashes are usually required and provide safety especially for children on the beach.
- Always bring a poop bag. There’s nothing worse than stepping in dog poop in your bare feet at the beach.
- Don’t let your dog poop in the water—I’ve seen this happen. Poop allows bacteria to thrive which can cause people who ingest the water to get sick. That’s why local health departments test the water at swimming beaches regularly. One poopy diaper can produce enough bacteria to shut down a beach for a day or two.
- Beware of the effect of the sun on your dog. Some dogs can get sunburn through their thin coats, or on their noses. You may want to put a wet t-shirt on your dog to prevent sunburn and keep him cool, or use sunscreen made especially for dogs. Human sunscreen containing zinc oxide is toxic for dogs.
- Don’t let your dog eat fish bones or other things at the beach. My springers spaniel always loved to eat stuff. Fortunately they didn’t get sick.
- This one goes without saying—don’t let them roll on dead fish! Why do they love to do this?
- Beware of sand flies and other insects on the beach. If bugs are biting you, they’re biting your dog too.
- If it’s very windy and the sand is blowing hard–then leave the beach for another day.
- If the water looks like green paint—don’t let your dog swim or drink the water. It could have a blue-green algae bloom, which may produce toxins.
- Don’t force your dog into the water to swim; this can cause them to hate it for the rest of their lives. I accidentally pulled one of my dogs underwater by dragging her into the water. Don’t pick up your dog and toss her into deep water with the mentality of letting your dog sink or swim. My dad did this to my first dog and she never got over her fear. Coax your dog gently into the water with treats or a ball, but let the dog decide how far she wants to go.
- If your dog loves to swim, don’t let your dog swim too far from shore. I’ve seen some ambitious owners lob a tennis ball far into a lake. Rip currents or an undertow could catch your dog and drag him out farther from shore. If your dog is pulled into deep water and struggling to get back to shore–don’t go after it! We’ve all heard stories of caring owners that drown trying to rescue their dogs, while their dog survived. If there is a rip current walk along the shore to encourage your dog to swim parallel to the shore instead of straight back. That should help him get out of the rip current.
- You may want to have a life jacket for your dog, especially if your dog does not swim well.
- Beware of hypothermia. Some water can be quite cold even while the beach is warm.
After Leaving the Beach
- Use a towel to wipe down your dog before he gets into the car.
- Have extra towels and a designated area for your dog to sit to reduce the amount of sand in the car.
- Brush the loose sand off their coat or give them a rinse or a bath in fresh water.
- Clean your dog’s ears, especially if your dog has long, floppy ears like my spaniels. Ear infections can occur with damp ear canals, so clean them with an otic solution with a drying agent.
These are some of my experiences with dogs at the beach. Please comment and add to the list. This isn’t quite a Wordless Wednesday post. Please read and comment on other posts below. If you would like to receive new posts, please sign up with your email address.
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