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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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From Our Holistic Vet: Summer Safety for Dogs at the Lake or Beach

Now that that the summer season is upon us a favorite past time of canine guardians is a fun trip to the lake or beach. Keep these safety tips in mind before embarking on your next summer adventure.

Firstly, choose a dog friendly beach, as many crowded beaches are not always canine welcoming, and some do not permit them at all, especially during peak summer months.

While swimming is a great exercise for both canine and human guardian, not every dog automatically knows how to swim. It’s important to go slowly, especially with non-sporting or toy breeds who innately may not know what to do at first. Start out in very shallow water and gradually introduce pets to lake or ocean water, even giving dogs some swim lessons as well.

During the hot days of summer, temperatures may climb quickly, so make sure you take breaks, provide ample time for naps in the shade, as well as adequate hydration by packing plenty of water bottles and a drinking bowl.
It’s best to find a calm area of the beach or lakefront away from large waves, as well as an area that is not as busy with human traffic or activity. Stay away from areas with too many boats or loud jet skis that may frighten even the most courageous dog.
Also, do not allow your dog to drink the water at the lake or beach, which may not only result in vomiting, diarrhea, or a parasitic infection, but also salt toxicity, a health threatening condition of dogs who drink too much salt water.

Keep in mind that, especially with short-coated and white or dilute-colored breeds, dogs are prone to sunburn like us. Keep thinly haired areas, such as the ears and nose protected. There are even now special sunscreens made just for pets, as well as sun shirts which are designed to shield them from the strong rays of the summer sun.
And just like with us, you may want to consider limiting sun exposure during the brightest times of day and stick to early in the morning or toward dusk.
Be aware of how quickly the hot summer temperatures cause very hot sand that may burn the paws of an over excited canine who wants to romp and play along the shoreline. Bringing some extra doggy socks in case the sand is too hot is also not a bad idea.
Watch out for dangerous hidden in the sand, including garbage, soda cans, rocks, hooks, sharp shell fragments, and broken glass. There are many unforeseen emergency visits to veterinary centers for dogs who have significant paw lacerations and injuries from these items, as well as fishhooks lodged in the mouth or throat.

As you exit the beach or lake always remember to rinse your canine companion off well to remove germs, sand and salt residue from their coats and paws.

Most importantly, do not forget to pick up your dog’s feces as it’s a danger to the wildlife and fish because of sand and water contamination.
Bring extra poop bags in your beach basket, as well as a first aid kit, which can include triple antibiotic Neosporin ointment, bandages, pet friendly sunscreen, Benadryl, and even a homeopathic remedy or two such as Arnica, which can help with unforeseen injuries and/or allergic reactions at the beach or lake front.

Dr. Michael Dym, VMD