Dogs At The Beach

Summertime – And the Livin’ Is Easy

Those famous lyrics couldn’t be further from the truth for many dogs who suffer through the best of intentions by their parents. We all want to share the good times with our friends. But summer fun comes with its own set of perils. What might be grand fun at the moment may have repercussions later, or just not be a lot of fun at all for Fido.

Take, for example, going to the beach. Every dog loves going to the beach, chasing waves, and watching beach volleyball, right?

These guys sure look like they are having fun!!


Actually many dogs only enjoy the beach only after repeated exposure. Consider these beach related hazards before packing up your boogie board and Bowser and heading for the surf.

  • The temperature of the sand can reach over 130 degrees. These temperatures can make just walking on the sand a painful business for Fido. And if you place your hand just 6 or 10 inches from the surface of the sand, you can experience the heat that is radiating onto your dog’s tender underparts.
  • Sunburn. Yes, dogs CAN get sunburned, especially those that have fair skin and a light colored coat. But those who have recently had a haircut are also at risk. Pay special attention to the tips of their ears and the end of their noses. Apply sunscreen if you will be out for very long Check with your vet or order online. Do not share your sunscreen as it most likely contains ingredients that are toxic to dogs.
  • The salt water can be very drying to your dog’s skin and might make him very itchy. Though the itching might make him uncomfortable, it is the scratching that can lead to secondary bacterial infections.
  • Paw pads will soften in the water. This makes them especially vulnerable to hot asphalt and sand.
  • Over-activity in the sun can lead quickly to heatstroke. This is easy to overlook when your dog is running again and again after that Frisbee. Some dogs will just keep running and playing fetch till they drop. Heatstroke is very serious and many dogs will die or have permanent organ damage. Though some dogs have better designed cooling systems, those with short noses are seriously at risk for heatstroke. Familiarize yourself this summer with the early signs of heatstroke.
  • Broken glass, undercurrents and jellyfish are additional hazards. Imagine the horror of watching your dog be pulled under and away from you as you watch on helplessly.
  • Just getting to the beach may cause problems for Fido. Many dogs get car sick, and while this isn’t deadly, it is certainly no picnic for your dog, or the car occupants. Check with your vet, as new drugs have become available specifically for dogs. Also, refrain from feeding them for 5 hours before the road trip.
  • There is no antidote for salt toxicity. Don’t allow your dog to ingest copious amount of salt water. Sodium builds up in the brain and the brain swells. As the pressure builds it can cause seizures, permanent neurological damage or death. Offer fresh, clean, cool water frequently.


While this list makes going to the beach sound rife with danger, it is really not much more dangerous than walking down the street with your dog.  But for most people, it happens on an irregular basis. That being said, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself and prepare for that day of fun in the sun.


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