For the love of you pet: Dogs and the beach

By John Beck
April 18, 2013 at midnight
Updated April 17, 2013 at 11:18 p.m.

Is it OK for us to take our dogs to the beach with us? Is there such a thing as "beach etiquette?"

Many families are taking their pets with them on vacations. They find that their dogs will enjoy the trip as much they do, and it provides good quality time that everyone has been missing.

Dogs especially seem to love to go to the beach. If you are spending four or more hours at the beach, make sure you bring water for your pet and a container for him to drink from.

Drinking too much saltwater can sometimes cause an upset stomach. Try to avoid too much ball chasing in the water and stay where the dog can touch the bottom. Dogs will need to rest in shade, as well.

Providing an umbrella for them to get under or holding a blanket or towel up to provide some shade for them when they rest will really help keep them from overheating. If your pet is light skinned or has thin or no hair, pet sunscreen is a must.

Dog's skin can get sunburned just like ours. Some people even like to get booties for the dogs' paws. There are small boots that zip up around the lower part of your dogs' feet to protect them from stepping on something - coral, rocks, etc. - that can cause a cut to the pad.

Remember to keep your dog on a leash, so he or she is not getting into other people's picnics. Also, good etiquette says you should do everyone a favor and pick up any bowel movements your pet has. No one wants to step in poop on vacation.

You might also want to take a small first aid kit with you. Include stretch wrap, such as Vet-Wrap or elastic bandage; triple antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin; Benadryl; olive oil; doggy shampoo; etc. The stretch wrap can be used on wounds that will not stop bleeding.

The triple antibiotic is for small cuts or scrapes and bug bites. The diphenhydramine is for any swelling or allergic reactions. Olive oil will protect the eye from saltwater and shampoos. And finally, bring shampoo because a dog at the beach gets very dirty, very fast.

If you are planning to make it a multiple-day stay, make sure the place you are staying is pet friendly. I would bring a crate for your pet, even if you normally don't enforce crate behavior. You never know what you will run into.

For example: If there are other vacationers who have also brought their pets and you need to separate your dog from theirs, if you have an emergency and need to leave your pet behind in the house unsupervised or if your dog gets sick, you might need a crate to transport them.

It's also a good idea to take their food and water bowls - switching can sometimes cause the pet to not want to use the new bowls and, in some cases, a rash around the pet's mouth.

Take their food from home - you don't want to have to get a different brand and risk upsetting their stomachs, which is common if the dog is not transitioned slowly to the new food. Take any medications your pet is currently on. Make sure you take a couple of days' extra just to be on the safe side.

Last but not least, take the phone number of your veterinarian and possibly try to find a vet in the area that you are traveling to in case you need one.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at drjohnbeck@



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