By Nancy E. Hassel, ThisFurryLife.com
Taking your dog with you to the beach for the first time? Whether you are going for a day trip or lucky enough for a beach vacation with your dog, you will want to check out our list below of essentials to bring with you. I joke that sometimes I feel like I am packing more stuff for my dog Cody, (@Codythebluenose), than if I had a human kid, but it does make the day at the beach easier when I am prepared ahead of time!
You may want to take your dog with you earlier in the day or later in the afternoon, one it’s not as hot or at those times and some beaches have specific beach hours when dogs are allowed.
Here’s my list of what I think you need while your pup is with you at the beach, and what to watch for:
1. Fresh cool water – You would be surprised how many people don’t think to bring fresh water for their dog while out at the beach. I have water with me, and a couple extra bottles in a mini cooler in my car. Dogs get extremely thirsty while having fun in the sun, swimming and romping around, and get dehydrated if you don’t give them fresh water.
2. Bring a Portable drinking bowl, there are many you can collapse and hook onto your bag. Or bring a Spleash with you – attaches to your leash, holds 12 ounces of water and has a drinking cup attached to it! Be sure to keep your dog hydrated and don’t let them ingest too much salt water.
3. Long leash – Not a retractable leash, but a biothane long lead where you can get at most pet supply stores, in all different lengths. I use a 25-foot long leash and hook his 6-foot leash onto that. (A retractable leash could get caught up and twisted around your dog’s legs in the water, and you may not be able to see it happening an cause a severe injury.) Your dog may be a great swimmer, but he could decide to swim out farther, perhaps not hear you call, get caught in a rip current, etc. In my experience, it is not worth it for your dog to be loose in the water. A long lead is literally a lifeline for your dog.
4. Lifejacket – some dogs need a boost swimming, take for instance my dog Cody, great swimmer but is also not built for swimming in that he is very muscular – and muscle sinks. So if he were going to be in the deeper water – he would 100% have a life jacket on to help him be more buoyant and for him to be safe while enjoying his swim time. (He has even worn a lifejacket while swimming in a pool.) Make sure you get your dog fitted properly when buying a life jacket.
5. Limit the swim time – For my dog Cody, I limit his swimming time to no more than 20 minutes. Due to his breed, his mouth is wider than say a lab or golden and if he is carrying a stick or floating toy while he is swimming more water will go down that wide mouth than with other breeds.
>> Another reason to limit the swim time is that dogs can get tired quickly in the water – and may not show it. That’s where we as pet parents need to step in and make them come out of the water to take a break and rest.
6. Pet-Friendly Sunscreen – you can find this in many pet stores, health food stores and even online. Apply to the top of your dog’s nose, on their snout, not the actual nose, and ears – dogs can get sunburn as well. If your dog is white or light haired in color and has short hair I would apply it on his back as well.
7. Pet-Friendly bug spray – again, you can find many brands of natural pet-friendly bug spray that do work and are free from harsh chemicals. The only time I use stronger bug spray is during a heavy mosquito season or when there are a lot of green flies.
8. Blanket – the sand may be hot after a while and you will want to have somewhere to have your pet rest, so bring his own blankie!
9. Umbrella or tent– this is really only necessary if you are spending the entire day at the beach – it’s important for your dog to have shade to lay under and not be in direct sun all day. Same goes for you! Or you can purchase one of the dog canopies or tents that are on the market for them to have their own place to cool off in the shade.
10. Monitor your dog always while in the water – I prefer to keep my dog on a long line so he can’t get too far into the water and I can pull him back to me if I see him trying to eat something in the water or on the sand. Yes, he knows to leave it and drop it, but you know how quickly a dog can eat something he is not supposed to.
Watch for wildlife – in many areas there may be wildlife your dog is not used to seeing, like deer, turtles, seabirds, crabs and so forth and if your dog is not leashed, it will not be a good thing if he takes off after a deer or tries to pick up a live crab! So keep your eyes out, and in the water too. If there are a lot of crabs or jellyfish – don’t let your dog in the water, getting pinched by a crab or stung by a jellyfish is no more fun for our pups than it is for us!
You will also want to watch your dog and not let him eat anything on the beach. There are many scrumptious things on the beach, shells, seaweed, broken glass – so train your dog the ‘leave it’ and ‘drop it’ commands! These commands will come in very handy as your puppy is running with a dead crab in his mouth. Yuck!
Lastly, it is good to rinse your dog off from the salt water when you get back home and thoroughly check your dog for ticks, and check again! Look for any scraps or minor cuts, especially on the paw pads, that need attention.
Get out there and enjoy it with your dog and enjoy the beach this summer, whether it is locally or while you’re on vacation. And what are your go-to items to bring with you? Post them in the comment section: