5 Things to Avoid on Beaches with Your Dog
A day spent at the beach with your dog can be a day well spent. Pent up energy is burnt off whilst you and your dog get some much needed fresh air and relaxation! Whilst we’re not at all trying to dissuade you from taking your dog to the beach, there are a number of common hazards which could potentially cause a problem for your pooch. Being aware and alert to these risks means a more pleasant experience for you in the long run.
This advice is by no means veterinary guidance; if you have any concerns about your dog, it’s important that you seek immediate advice from your vet.
It’s important to note that your dog can become ill from simply swimming in contaminated water, not only through ingesting it. The Blue Cross states that dogs are susceptible to nasty infections caused by things like sewage, chemicals or harmful bacteria, such as blue-green algae. Exposure to these pollutants can lead to a wide range of symptoms and can be dependent on what your dog has come into contact with. However, the most common signs to look out for are vomiting, diarrhoea, skin irritation, and even seizures (in severe cases).
The first thing to do is to stop your dog from swimming in or drinking water that is discoloured, has a foul smell, or is visibly contaminated. If you believe there may be a bloom of blue-green algae, you can check here.
We understand that it can be quite difficult to determine whether water is fully safe at a beach, especially by simply looking at it. However, there are things you can look up to try to keep your dog safe. You can research the water quality at your chosen beach before you visit. This can be done here. The Environment Agency takes regular water samples to test for bacteria such as e-coli.
Jellyfish and other harmful marine life
Jellyfish stings very rarely cause fatalities in dogs in the UK, however they can be extremely painful and could cause an allergic reaction. The Dogs Trust gives some symptoms of a jellyfish sting, which includes swelling, pain, vomiting and breathing difficulties. If you believe your dog has got a little too close to a jellyfish, contact your veterinarian immediately. If you can, use a stick or towel to pull off any remaining tentacles. NEVER rub tentacles off with sand or use your bare hands.
Other marine creatures which live along the British coastline can also cause a problem for your dog. Keep a lookout for any warning signs the local authority may have posted at the beach and closely monitor your dog when they’re exploring in the water. .
If you believe your dog has come into contact with any animal in the sea and is showing signs of distress, seek immediate veterinary advice.
Broken glass and sharp objects
Broken glass, sharp shells, and other debris can cause injuries to your dog's paws, which can lead to infection. In an article published by Pets at Home, they advise pet owners to carry a pet first-aid kit that includes gauze, adhesive tape, and antiseptic wipes, among other essentials. This will help you address any minor cuts or injuries your dog may sustain during your beach trip.
To minimise the risk of injury, survey the area before allowing your dog to play or walk on the beach. Keep them on a lead if you notice any potential hazards, and consider investing in protective footwear for your dog if you frequently visit beaches with sharp objects.
Watch out for fishing gear
Fishing tackle, such as hooks, lines, and sinkers, can pose a serious threat to your dog's safety. Ingesting or getting entangled in fishing gear can lead to choking, internal injuries, or even death. The RSPCA warns pet owners to be vigilant when visiting beaches popular with anglers.
The responsible thing to do if you spot any fishing lines or hooks is to pick it up and dispose of it safely. If you’re walking your dog at a notorious angling spot, it may be wise to keep your dog on lead, especially if your dog is prone to chomping down on the unfamiliar!
Be cautious of toxic substances
Sometimes, there can be problems on the beach which involve toxic substances. Examples include oil spills or the illegal fly tipping of pesticides. Whilst normally reported on pretty quickly, it’s important to be vigilant and report any sightings of chemical spills to the local council. These substances can be harmful to all kinds of animals, not just your dog. Advice from the PDSA states owners need to be cautious of any unusual substances or odours on the beach and to keep their dogs away from these potential hazards.
Spending time at the beach can be an incredibly positive experience for both you and your dog. By keeping the mentioned hazards at the forefront of your mind, you’ll be ensuring your dog is kept safe from injury or illness. Please do your research before visiting an unfamiliar beach and always keep an eye out for algae blooms. Remember, if you believe your dog has come into contact with anything toxic or harmful, and is displaying unusual symptoms, always err on the side of caution and seek advice from your vet. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.