For coastal dwellers, a daily stroll along the beach wouldn’t raise any concern about a dog’s welfare. Experiences such as fetching a Frisbee, or jumping into the deep end of a pool with our pup generally aren’t frightening enough to give us a second thought. However, while going to the beach or swimming in a pool or lake might seem like innocent fun, water can be very threatening to pets. Here are some dangers to watch out for in the waves:

Water Hazards for Pets

  • Salt water consumption: The salt water itself is not as dangerous, but consuming it can become a major problem. Dogs pant with their mouths open, and end up swallowing a surprising amount of sea water. High levels of salt can result in salt poisoning or hypernatremia, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and brain swelling. Avoid this by keeping tabs on how much time the pet spends in the waves, and by refreshing him often with a bottle of fresh water.
  • Ocean currents and undertow: Depending on the tide and time of the month, ocean currents can have dangerously forceful currents. Waves have been known to come out of nowhere and drag small animals away from the shore, leaving the pet at risk of drowning. If you are planning to spend time at the beach, keep an eye on your local coast warnings and weather forecasts to see if there are particularly harsh winds or strong currents predicted. (Note: For families who take their pets out on a boat with them, be careful to suit the animal with a life jacket if they are not a strong swimming breed. French Bulldogs and Basset Hounds are some of the breeds most endangered when in water.)
  • Pool chemical toxicity: Many people allow their dogs to swim in the pool with them on warm days. This is usually fine since most of the chemicals used to clean pools (such as algaecides and chlorine shock water) are adequately diluted by the time anyone goes swimming. However, if your dog is in a pool that uses undiluted chlorine tablets in chemical dispensers, this can be poisonous for your pet when ingested. If you are visiting friends for a pool party, have a quick look around to ensure that no chemicals are left exposed and accessible to your curious canine explorer.
  • Sunscreen toxicity: Whenever people spend quality time outdoors, sunscreen is usually an important part of the equation. Though most of the products seem harmless, the chemicals in sunblock are very toxic to dogs when consumed. Though it may be difficult to imagine why any dog might want to lick up that spilled sunscreen, remember than some sun protection salves smell like delicious coconut, banana, or pineapple. Your pup might think it is a tasty smoothie that sloshed on the pool deck, and lap it up before you can stop him. Be aware of where your dog is and what dangerous poolside product he might be about to sample.