OVRS_iStock_000047035506_LargeSurf’s up in Michigan! (Ok, well, what we consider surf.) And, many of us, human or animal alike, can appreciate the cool lakeshore on a steamy summer day. Have fun at the beach and avoid these doggie dangers with a little beach safety awareness. High water levels, heat, and pet escape are among some of the possible pet perils.

To make yours and your pet’s summer extra cool, practice some of the following surf-n-turf precautions.

A-Splishing and A-Splashing: Swimming Safety

Many pet owners make the mistake of assuming all animals are swimming superstars. However, this is not true. Pets, just as anyone, can have an aversion to water, or can become tired, overheated, or overtaken by strong waves. Before you leap into the depths with Fido, you may want to gauge his or her swimming skills in a pool or at the lakeshore. Many dogs aren’t the adept swimmers you think they might be, and it’s better to find out if your pet’s a minnow or a shark ahead of time.

Better yet, if you are going to be out on a boat with your dog, we encourage you to outfit him or her with a safety vest. Even if you only plan to be in deep water for a little while, this will help keep your pup from becoming tired. More importantly, it can help in a situation where you or your dog become fatigued.

We don’t think twice about donning a life vest or outfitting kids with vests, and the same consideration should be made when it comes to keeping our dogs from becoming drowning victims.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

Another major concern for furry pals is the heat. A high UV index and humidity can create a heat stroke or heat stress emergency. Not to mention, being out under the scalding sun is simply uncomfortable, oftentimes painful, and can become downright dangerous.

To keep your friend cool and free from heat-related risks, practice the following heat and sun awareness tips.

  • Take numerous shade breaks when on the water by putting up a sunshade or finding a tree lined picnic area to stage the day’s fun
  • Remember to bring lots of fresh water – both for the day’s events as well as for the ride home – to keep your pet hydrated
  • Discourage him or her from drinking lake water (which can contain bacteria and toxins)
  • If your pet is prone to sunburn (short haired breed or light colored fur), you may wish to purchase a sun suit or dog sunscreen to protect him from the harmful UV rays
  • Remember: if the sand is hot to the touch, it is too hot for sensitive paws
  • Know the signs of heat stroke and seek emergency veterinary care if your dog is displaying any of the symptoms.

Other Beach Safety and Courtesy Tips

In order to make it a great day on the water for all, it’s important to have common sense and courtesy when it comes to your dog’s behavior. This requires practicing good pet owner etiquette and maintaining supervision of your pet at all times.

To put your consideration into practice, be mindful of the following beach courtesy and safety guidelines.

  • Pick up the poo (yes, we have said it before and we will say it again)
  • Keep your dog on a leash when on the beach and follow posted rules (remember, not all beaches or people are pet friendly)
  • Keep people food away from your pet (and other animals) by disposing of picnic and barbeque trash in secure receptacles
  • Discourage your dog from chasing other birds or animals
  • Rinse lake water off of your dog before ending the day and do a thorough skin check for ticks and other parasites, bug bites, or signs of irritation

Our dog pals are often the life of the party, enjoying swimming, Frisbee, and sprints along the waterfront. Keep this summer one to remember by encouraging beach safety for the entire family.

Happy summer from Oakland Veterinary Referral Services!