Life’s A Beach
With recent sunny weather, many Families have been flocking to the seaside with their dogs.
Everyone loves a fun filled day at the beach, however we should be aware that a day at the beach can sometimes put dogs at risk. Not all dog owners are aware of the dangers lurking on the sand or in the water.
Salt water: dogs are very sensitive to the effects of salt water, (or sodium chloride). When swimming in the sea, they may ingest significant quantities very quickly. Dogs also have a habit of trying to lap this very salty water from rock pools and puddles that have formed on the beach.
Following ingestion of salt water, vomiting can occur within a few minutes. Neurological signs can also develop up to several hours later.
In severe cases muscular rigidity, convulsions, coma, kidney failure and shock may occur. The majority of cases of seawater ingestion reported to VPIS (veterinary poisons information service) are symptomatic and, sadly, hypernatremia (high levels of sodium in the blood) can prove fatal.
In mild cases, small amounts of fresh water should be offered frequently.
If you think your dog may have ingested sea water then veterinary advice should be sought immediately.
Palm Oil: Palm oil has been seen washed up on beaches throughout the UK. While fats and oil do not cause outright toxicity if ingested acutely, they can cause a quick onset laxative effect, causing Vomiting and diarrhoea. There is risk of dehydration and pancreatitis in chronic cases and sometimes intestinal blockages can occur.
Jellyfish: Pretty but nasty, even dead jellyfish can sting, often for weeks after they have died.
Don’t let your dogs lick, step on, or eat jelly fish; keep them well away. Jelly fish stings hurt; those areas of your dogs’ body with less hair; such as the nose, mouth, abdomen, testicles, and around the eyes have more chance of exposure and a nasty sting. . Signs to look out for include: vomiting, swelling, excessive salivation, mouth irritation, distress, pain, overheating and diarrhoea. Twitching and respiratory signs may also occur.
Skin irritation can occur and be very distressing for your dogs. If your dog does get stung, the affected area should be washed with seawater immediately. Any remaining tentacles should be safely pulled off the skin (remember you can get stung too) but never rubbed off. The area must not be rubbed with sand. You should seek veterinary attention as painkillers and antihistamines may need to be given.
Foreign Objects: dogs love to chase their favourite ball on the beach, but be aware they could also pick up other hazardous objects and ingest them.
We often see dogs that have swallowed foreign objects such as Stones, Shells, Seaweed and fish hooks.
These objects can cause serious illness and can become lodged inside your dogs stomach and intestines. Often exploratory surgery is required to remove these objects. Surgery can be risky and unfortunately also expensive.
Symptoms such as Vomiting, lethargy, anorexia, abdominal pain and constipation or diarrhoea, may not start for days or sometimes even weeks after ingestion. If you think your dog may have swallowed any foreign objects they must see a vet immediately.
Sand: Some of us love it some of us hate it. Remember while you are feeling the sand between your toes your dog could be feeling it between their teeth!
We don’t understand why, but some dogs love to eat it. Sand can cause blockages in the intestines and cause an impaction. This requires immediate veterinary attention. As you can imagine it’s uncomfortable and can make your dogs very ill.
Refrain from dropping any edible items such as sandwiches or treats onto the sand, believe us even after the item has been swallowed dogs will still lick the area. If you have ever had a picnic on the beach you will know there is nothing worse than sandy sandwiches!
Please be aware that some of our beaches also have areas of quick sand and sink holes. If you notice areas on the beach please inform your local council so they can warn others of the risks. Stay away from these areas.
Sun: We all know the risks basking in the sun can have on our body. Dogs are also affected by excessive sun exposure. They can quickly overheat and develop heat exhaustion.
If you are planning a long day at the beach it may be best to leave your dogs at home. If you do take them with you ensure they have: a shaded area out of direct sunlight, access to cool fresh drinking water, and long periods of rest.
Please remember even in the shade they can overheat, and NEVER EVER leave a dog inside a car even with the windows down, cars act like ovens and your dog will die.
It is important not to exercise them excessively when in the hot sun, chasing a ball is fun but they will tire more quickly in the heat.
Any exposed areas such as sensitive ears, mouths, and tummy’s should have a suitable sun block applied, dogs can get sunburn just as we can and they can be at risk of developing skin cancers.
Swimming: Cooling down with a dip in the sea can be fun but it can also be dangerous. Tides can change quickly and rip tides can occur. If your dog loves a dip in the ocean please take care, Never allow your dog to swim when a red or yellow flag is displayed, never throw objects into the sea for your dog to fetch in rocky areas, never throw your dog into the water, never go out of your depth to reach your dog, and don’t allow your dogs into the water if you are unsure of the depth.
Local Wildlife: We are very lucky to have an abundance of beautiful wildlife that inhabits our coasts, seals and sea birds will often rest on the sand.
If you come across a resting seal or sea bird please keep your dogs away, seals look cute but can give a nasty bite, they can also carry diseases, some of which pose a potential risk to your dogs. Seals need to rest so NEVER chase a seal back into the water. Don’t allow your dogs to chase birds or approach any nests, birds are very protective of their young.
If you come across an injured seal don’t approach it as this can stress the seal further. Don’t draw attention to it and if possible contact the BDMLR (British Divers and Marine Life Rescue) 01825 765546.