Beach Safety for Pets

June 25, 2011 | By Maggie Marton

Tips to keep your pet secure in the surf and sand.

With summer officially underway, it’s time to hit the sand and surf. While taking your dog to the beach can be fun for the whole family, there are a few safety considerations that will make the trip even more enjoyable.

Surf Dog Ricochet is an award-winning surf dog and philanthropic role model. Not only does Ricochet clean up surfing awards, but she was also an extra in the movie Marmaduke. With all her beach know-how, Ricochet’s person, Judy Fridono, a certified professional dog trainer, shares her tips for keeping your dog safe at the beach.

Test your dog’s swimming smarts. It’s a common misconception that all dogs know how to swim. Not all dogs like to swim, either. Before you dive in, allow your dog time to explore along the shoreline or in shallow areas.

Scope out the beach. “Survey the surrounding area. Are there cliffs? If your dog is prone to chase critters like Ricochet, you’ll want to keep them away from potentially dangerous cliffs. They can fall off the side, or the structure may be fragile, and a whole section of the cliff can fall from underneath them,” said Fridono. She also cautions owners to look for any reefs that your dog could access. “Running on reefs can be dangerous as they have very sharp edges.”

Gear up for safety. If your dog’s recall isn’t strong or if your dog tends to chase animals like Ricochet does, bring a long lead. And even if your dogs are strong swimmers, “they should wear a life jacket because riptides can take them out,” said Fridono.

Watch for wildlife. “Watch for jellyfish lying on the shore. Dogs tend to be curious and they can be dangerous,” said Fridono. “Same thing with stingrays that like to swim near the shore. They can sting a dog’s paw.” Practice the “leave it” command before your trip to the beach to keep your dog from picking up dangerous wildlife.

Guard against the elements. Just like you check to see if pavement is too hot for your dog’s feed, check to see if the sand is too hot. If need be, get your pup booties to prevent burns. Even though your pup may enjoy romping through the water — or maybe even surfing like Ricochet — keep him hydrated on shore. “Don’t let your dog drink salt water from the ocean. It can make them very sick,” said Fridono. “Bring plenty of fresh water, and make sure they drink it.”

You and your dog can have a blast at the beach this summer as long as you take a few safety precautions. The bottom line, according to Fridono: “Make sure you keep an eye on your dog at all times. It only takes a second for an accident to happen.”


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