Paris Permenter, along with her husband, John Bigley, is the co-author of Texas with Dogs and the founder of PawZaar.com.
Our dogs Irie and Tiki like nothing better than a trip to the beach. They can happily spend the day romping in the surf and exploring the beach with all its fascinating smells and sounds.
But, for all its fun, the beach can spell trouble, too. Before you and your dog head to the beach, have a look through this list to see how many of these hazards might be present on your local beaches:
1. Drinking salt water
Our Tiki makes a beeline for sea water; between the salt and the fishy smell, it must be a canine cocktail. But be sure to watch your dog and stop him from drinking saltwater; too much and he’ll have a nasty case of diarrhea and a tummy ache. We carry lots of fresh water and offer it often.
2. Dangerous surf
Even a strong swimming dog can get caught in a riptide. Be sure you know the surf conditions before you and your dog head out for a swim.
Horseplay—make that dogplay—can make a beach day go by so quickly but, in all the fun, your dog may not realize that exhaustion is creeping up.
4. Other dogs
Beach fun can sometimes overwhelm dogs; the overstimulation can result in tussles. Be sure to keep an eye out for tense body language, especially in off-leash situations.
Oh, that beach litter can be as tempting as a tumbled trash can…but it can also contain everything from industrial waste to rotting garbage.
6. Dead fish
In the Pacific Northwest, Salmon Poisoning Disease (SPD)—caused by eating certain types of raw fish that contain a parasite—is potentially deadly. It’s a regional problem but the risk of ingesting dead fish is a hazard wherever your dogs may venture—they like nothing better!
7. Fishing line and hooks
Almost impossible to spot in the water, fishing line presents a drowning risk if your swimming (and especially diving) dog should tangle in it. Sharp hooks are hazardous when walking in the surf as well.
Even just a few drops of liquid from e-cigarettes and their refill bottles can poison a dog (and a person). Keep an eye out for discarded cigarettes and bottles.
9. Tar balls
Tar balls aren’t dangerous but they’re certainly annoying. These black clumps, formed by natural seepage and offshore oil spills, wash up on the beach and stick to shoes and paws alike. The safest way to remove the tar is with baby oil.
The beach itself makes the perfect place for a nice, long dog walk but you’ll need to keep an eye out for a few troublemakers including the Portuguese Man-Of-War jellyfish. The tentacles of these iridescent purple creatures produce a nasty sting.
11. Broken glass
Broken glass half buried in the sand is especially dangerous to your dog’s water-softened paw pads!
Fooled by cool breezes and beach fun, the heat can really sneak up on you at the beach. Be sure to give your dog some shade, whether that’s the beach umbrella or beneath a picnic table, along with plenty of cool, fresh water.
13. Ignoring–or not hearing–commands
The Texas beaches are notoriously windy. We’ve seen so many dogs racing one direction while their owner chases and yells commands from behind. Whether the dog isn’t hearing the command in the wind or is just choosing to chase to ignore the rules and chase the fun (hey, it is the beach!), the results are the same.
14. Hot sand
Did you ever see that scene in “10” where Dudley Moore runs across the hot beach—barefoot? The hot sand can burn your dog’s paw pads so be sure to protect them with booties or by walking your dog along the water’s edge.
The Gulf beaches we frequent are super shallow so we don’t have to worry about boats—but, if your waters are deeper, keep an eye out for boats that can come close to swimming dogs.
16. Flying sand
Sand and beaches go hand-in-paw. Our dog Irie has had irritated eyes on several occasions because of her sand castle building.
Our dog Irie had a melanoma removed from her snout a few years ago so we’re extra careful to apply sunscreen to her. Dogs with short hair (or recent haircuts), white dogs, and pink eared dogs have to be especially careful not to catch too many rays.
Although it grows in fresh water, toxic Blue-Green Algae can also be found in brackish pools. If your dog steps in the algae, be sure to wash it off before he licks it off.
19. Urchins in tidal pools
Ouch! You don’t have to worry about them everywhere but these prickly urchins can spell some sore paws.
H/T to FletcherAndOpal/Instagram