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How Much Beach Time Can Your Dog Handle?

Picture of a dog running at the beach with a stick

When the warm breezes of summer begin to blow, many families turn their minds towards loading up their vehicles and heading for the beach. With many public beaches now permitting dogs to join their owners for a day of fun in the sun, more and more people are bringing Fido along on their seaside adventures. Though a swim in the lake and a romp on the sand can do Fido’s body a lot of good, there are certain considerations owners must take into place to keep their best canine pal healthy and well while at the beach. Just how much beach time can your dog handle?

How Much Water Time Can Your Dog Handle?

Many dogs are drawn to water like magnets, being hardly able to contain themselves when a lake or river comes into view. However, not all dogs know how to swim, and many will panic after taking the plunge into the water.

Swimming can pose several different hazards for dogs, so owners must be aware of the dangers and to provide active supervision to ensure the safety of their dogs. As a general rule of thumb, swimming sessions should be restricted to no more than twenty minutes at a time to prevent fatigue.

Here are some of the problems which could befall your dog when enjoying the water at the beach:

  • Inability to swim

Many dogs struggle to keep their heads above water due to the physical structure of their bodies. Other breeds such as Boston Terriers, Pugs, and French Bulldogs possess snubbed noses which makes breathing while swimming a challenge and puts them at a greater risk for drowning.

Owners should never assume that because their dog shows enthusiasm for swimming that they will inherently have the ability to engage in the activity. Supervision and limited swimming times are key to keeping dogs healthy and well. 

  • Lack of confidence

Some dogs simply lack the confidence to attempt a swim without a life jacket for support. Life jackets are quite inexpensive and can be obtained at any high- quality pet retailer.

Dogs that are forced to enter a body of water against their will may panic which could potentially lead to emotional trauma and even drowning. To prevent this, dogs should only be permitted to swim if they approach and enter the water of their own volition. 

  • Currents that are too strong

All bodies of water are subject to currents which can increase in intensity very quickly. To help keep Fido safe in the water, it is a good idea to attach a long lead to the dog’s collar, allowing him to be pulled to safety if the current takes a turn for the worse.

Swimming in waters with a lot of waves or a heavy current can also easily fatigue a dog which could lead to accident, injury, or even death. 

  • Dangers in the water

Lakes, rivers, and oceans harbor many different things that can be harmful to dogs. Snakes often hide behind rocks or in small holes along the banks of rivers. Dogs that get too curious and stick their muzzles inside a hole might be in for a very unpleasant surprise.

The bottoms of rivers and lakes can also be lined with rocks and even broken glass and shells that could cut the dog’s paws.  But one of the most dangerous things owners may not be aware of is blue-green algae, a substance that can kill dogs if ingested. When a dog swims, he gulps some of the lake or river water, accidentally consuming it. Blue-green algae is of greatest concern during the hottest times of the summer. 

  • Too cold water temperatures

Swimming in water that is too cold could lead to hypothermia very quickly. As a general rule of thumb; if the water is too cold for humans to take a dip, it is too cold for dogs as well. 

  • Extreme fatigue

When a dog becomes overtired, his reflexes are dulled. Many dogs paddle out far into the distance of the lake then lack the energy reserves to swim back to shore, a problem that could end tragically. For this reason, swimming times should be limited to no more than twenty minutes. During any time a dog spends swimming at the beach, he should be carefully supervised. It only takes a few minutes for a terrible accident to occur. Keeping a close eye on a dog can prevent that from happening.

How Much Sun Time Can Your Dog Handle?

Though some dogs enjoy a good nap in the sun, most are happiest when given the opportunity to frolic and play with the sun’s vibrant rays beating down on them. Though a day of playtime in the sand, surf, and sun can be very good for Fido, there is a chance that your dog could become ill from excess sun exposure.

Thankfully, there are several things you can do to help Fido to safely enjoy a day at the beach.

These include:

  • Limit beach visits to before 11 AM and after 3 PM to avoid the hottest times of day
  • Intersperse time in the sun with breaks in the shade
  • Make use of a sunscreen designed for dog use
  • Ensure Fido has an ample supply of drinking water at all times
  • Follow the rule of 1 hour of shade for every 2 to 3 hours of sun 

How Much Exposure to New People Can Your Dog Handle?

Going to the beach includes much more than simply exposure to the sun, sand, and surf for your dog. Though many dog breeds enjoy the company of new people; for other dogs, this can be very stressful. Many people fail to properly control their dogs at the beach, meaning your pooch could find himself bombarded with canine company that he really doesn’t care for. Children also love dogs, meaning Fido could be swarmed by little toddlers anxious to paw and play with him. All of this can equate to a lot for the average dog to deal with in a day: particularly if Fido is the type of dog that prefers the quiet life.

During a trip the beach, keep a careful eye on your dog to monitor his level of comfort. If the beach is overly busy or your dog is receiving more attention than he seems to feel comfortable with, it is best to head for home and return another day when the beach is less heavily trafficked.

Forcing your dog to remain in situation that makes him feel stressed or anxious could lead to him feeling he must be defend himself. Be your dog’s protector by paying careful attention to his emotional needs and removing him from any situations that are too much for him. 

How Much Time Away from Regular Routine Can Your Dog Handle?

Though most dogs do enjoy trying new things with their families, they are, at heart, creatures of habit. While some dogs can spend an entire day at the beach having a ball, others start to feel antsy to return home after only an hour. Each dog is unique in what their specific level of tolerance is when it comes to the disruption of their daily routine.

Pay careful attention to your dog to gauge his level of interest and fun. Should your dog be showing signs of feeling anxious to return to his comfort zone, allow your dog to retreat to a quiet space such as a covered crate or shaded area or consider calling it a day and trying again another time.

How much of the beach can your dog handle? By paying careful attention to your dog during your day of beach fun, you can assess his unique needs to help him stay healthy and well each time you head out for a summertime adventure in the sand and surf!

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