By Dr. Mary Fuller
Ready to grab that beach towel and head to the shore with your canine companion in tow?
While a straw hat and a pulp-fiction novel may be at the top of your packing list, you also need to bring along a few things to help ensure your dog's comfort - and take the right precautions to keep him safe on land and in the water.
Although some dogs seem to be natural swimmers, flat-nosed and barrel-chested breeds, like Bulldogs, have a hard time staying afloat. When in doubt, make sure that your dog is wearing a life vest, and never leave your pup unsupervised in or even near the water.
When it's time to go for a swim, it's always best to steer your pet toward calmer waters, away from speedboats and rough surf. Scan the area for possible danger spots, or ask a lifeguard for advice on water conditions.
Finally, try to keep your dog from guzzling too much salt water, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. The water in lakes, ponds and streams can also be problematic and contain microorganisms that can lead to illness. Stagnant water that resembles pea soup may contain blue-green algae, and drinking it can cause liver problems. Instead, bring plenty of fresh, clean water and a collapsible drinking bowl to quench your dog's thirst.Sun Safety
With all that romping in the sun, it's easy for canines to overheat, particularly such flat-nosed breeds as Pugs and Pekingese, which can succumb to the heat faster than others. So be sure to provide a cool place in the shade for them to rest or consider packing a portable, pop-up carrier that offers protection from the sun and plenty of ventilation.
Canines with pink or light-colored noses or thin, short coats are at a higher risk of developing sunburn and skin cancer. Dogs who have hair loss or who expose the bare skin of their bellies to the sun could use a little sunscreen too.
Since human sunscreens can contain ingredients that shouldn't be ingested by dogs, look for a fragrance-free pet sunscreen or a sunblock with broad spectrum UVA and UVB barriers. Apply the sunscreen to vulnerable areas, such as the nose, ear tips and belly - and try to keep your dog from licking it off before it fully soaks in. For dogs with thin, white coats, a T-shirt can also help further protect sun-vulnerable backs and tummies.Sand Safety
Chasing Frisbees across the hot sand can burn tender paw pads. And submerged dangers - broken glass, shells and fishhooks - can lead to lacerations. So keep your pup's paws protected with strap-on booties.
When you're ready to call it a day, rinse your dog with clean water to remove any sand or salt from his coat. Use a towel to dry him off, paying particular attention to any moisture on the outside of his ears. If nothing else, it will help eliminate that wet dog smell, so you can drive with the windows rolled up, while your tired pup snores all the way home.See More on vetstreet.com:
Beach Safety Tips for the Dog Days of Summer