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Dogs and ocean hazards

The ocean can be an exciting place for a dog but be aware of the hazards—including the ocean water. Dr. Lee discusses ocean safety for dogs in this blog.

Dogs and ocean hazards

Q: We’re heading to the beach, and for the first time, we’re taking Mack, our Labrador retriever. Dogs are permitted on the beach only in the early morning and late evening, so the air and sand should be cool. Are there any special precautions we should take?

A: If Mack is like most Labs, he’ll enjoy a romp in the surf. Watch him closely to be sure he doesn’t swim out too far or get caught in a rip current.

Some dogs lap up salt water as they swim. If Mack does, you’ll have to limit his time in the water. Salt water ingestion can cause diarrhea, vomiting and even neurological disorders. If Mack develops diarrhea, the most common problem associated with drinking seawater, offer him plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration, and give him time to empty his bowels before he heads back indoors.

Don’t let Mack eat the fish, shellfish or seaweed washed up on the beach. Whether dead or alive, sea life can be contaminated with bacteria that may make him sick.

Bounding through the sand is risky, because Mack can cut himself on broken glass or shells buried beneath the surface. Check his feet closely after play time.

If you take these simple precautions, I’m certain Mack will enjoy his beach vacation immensely.

Editor’s Note: While many dogs love water, if you have a dog who hasn’t been around water, here are tips for teaching your dog how to swim.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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