Beach Safety Tips for Your Pet

Ah, summer… we are in the full peak of summer here in the Comox Valley and what better way to beat the heat them a frolic at the beach! Summer on Vancouver Island is a favourite season for many, including our pets who love joining us at the rivers, lakes and many beautiful beaches, just minutes from our doorsteps.

If adventures to the beach are your pet’s favourite summer past time, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

Be Sun Smart! – Just like humans, dogs can suffer from heatstroke and hyperthermia. Heatstroke sneaks up on your pets quite quickly, as they often don’t know when it’s time to take a break and seek shade. For those ball chasing, wave jumping, stick obsessed canines, they will literally play until they drop. It is up to us, the pet owner, to be aware of our dog’s heat tolerance and force several breaks during play time.

Pick Your Times – Avoid the hottest times of the day and take an early morning stroll or a late evening swim with your pet to cool off. Peak times are not only too hot for your canine companion, but often the beaches are crowded, which can mean a greater risk of conflict or confrontations with other, heat exhausted canines.

Watch Those Feet! – The sand can be hot! Dogs will spend hours running and be playing on the hot sand, without realizing the damage this can cause the pads of their feet. If the sand is too hot for you, then it is too hot for your dog’s feet. Just like you, your dog may also appreciate a grass mat or towel to stand on. We often see pets coming in this time of year with cuts and scrapes to the bottom of their feet, as well as torn dewclaws. This usually occurs from running over barnacles and sharp rocks. It’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit in your car when going out on beach adventures.

Keep Control of Your Companion – Unfortunately, we also see an increase in injuries this time of year due to dog fights. Canine conflicts occur for several reasons and it is inevitable when you have several dogs in one place, at one time. Please be respectful of each other’s space, as well as your dog’s space. You may have the “friendly” dog, but that doesn’t excuse him from kicking up sand on your neighbour’s picnic or invading another “less friendly” dog’s space, who is under control and on a leash. Please pick up after your pet at the beach. These beautiful public spaces are for everyone to enjoy, including our four-legged friends, so as dog lovers let’s keep the peace and keep the beaches clean and safe for all of us to enjoy.

Water Toxicity – There have been several articles going around social media lately about water intoxication in dogs and this is a real danger. Dogs will often swallow water while swimming or retrieving sticks. Too much salt water will cause dehydration, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. It is usually pretty instant and can be quite violent. There is also a danger with fresh water intake. Depending how much water they drink, some dogs can become quite ill, quite as fast as an excessive amount of water over a short period of time can actually cause swelling of the brain. This condition, due to an electrolyte disorder when sodium levels become dangerously low, is also known as hyponatremia. This can be fatal without treatment. This is not a common condition, however, an important one to be aware of if your dog spends hours in the water and has a habit of lapping up water while he swims.

Symptoms of Hyponatremia include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Staggering/Stumbling
  • Pale Gums
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bloating

If you are concerned that your dog may be showing signs of water intoxication, seek veterinary help immediately. Give us a call at 250.334.8400.

Written by Van Isle Veterinary Hospital