With high temps and dry weather, pup-parents may be clamoring to take their dogs for an ideal afternoon at one of San Diego’s dog beaches. A highly important factor for pup-parents to keep in mind is to ensure the safety of their furry family members. The San Diego area has dog friendly beaches to let pups cool-off.
The Del Mar Dog Beach is an off-leash dog beach, but during certain times of year owners can take their leashed pets down a long stroll of the Del Mar beach. Owners can also visit the Coronado Dog Beach and the Ocean Beach dog area.
Nicole Ellis, a product manager and resident pet expert at DogVacay provided helpful tips as to how owners should protect their dog and ensure that they are safe and happy during their time in the water.
“Taking your pup in the water for the first time can be a lot of fun, as long as you keep it positive and don’t ever force him into the water! Always start in a shallow body of water first, and slowly expose your dog to the deeper part of the water as he becomes more comfortable. For deeper water, begin by lightly supporting your dog in the water and gradually letting go of your resistance. If your pup is hesitant, it’s a great idea for you both to start in shallow water and you can coax him towards you in progressively deeper areas.”
To the untrained eye it might be difficult to tell when a dog is in trouble or growing tired, but it’s important to supervise them and for first time swimmers it’s important to introduce a dog to water slowly. Ellis says that puppies can swim at a very early age, and training can start when the dog is 10 to 12 weeks old.
“When a dog is swimming, he should be using his paws as if he’s running in a calm and relaxed fashion. If your dog is breathing heavily and pulling strongly with his paws, he may be nervous or uncomfortable,” says Ellis. “It’s a good idea to start in shallow water or a kiddie pool and gradually move into deeper water. A slow moving dog or one not moving his paws may be confused about what to do, so be sure to always support a learning pup in the water. Putting your hand on the bottom of his back paws can help your pup to kick out and initiate the swimming motion.”
Especially with the ocean waves, it’s important to purchase a life jacket. Swimming in waves, like many people discover while swimming, can be draining.
“I never do water activities with my dog unless she’s wearing a pup life jacket! Getting the right fit is also very important; if it’s too big he can slip right of out of it, and if it’s too small it may not be strong enough to support your dog. Make sure the life jacket fits snugly around his rib cage as well as his chest and under his head. The jacket should not affect your dog’s ability to swim—if your pup isn’t able to move their legs freely, then the fit’s not right. I prefer a jacket that has a handle on top as well, so that I can grab my pup quickly if necessary.”
Dog life jackets can be purchased from a variety of different pet companies and retailers including Ruffwear and Petsmart.
Swimming in the ocean can be a scary experience for dogs, and even shallow beaches like the Del Mar Dog Beach have strong currents that should be taken into account.
“Make sure your pup is confident in still bodies of water first. Just like with a pool or lake, you should start in the shallow water so your pup can get used to hearing the waves and the motion of the water; then, as he’s comfortable, you can work your way in together. You should only take your dog in the ocean if he’s a strong swimmer and big enough to handle the waves!, and you should always be nearby to pull him out quickly if he gets into trouble. As with any body of water, a life jacket is very important and should be worn at all times. Most pups will drink sea water if they are thirsty, but this won’t actually hydrate them, so it’s important to give them clean cool water during all breaks. The ocean can be a lot of fun for you and your dog to play in when done safely!
Pup-parents can ensure their pet is safe by also learning lifesaving skills from apps or classes.
“I’m a big fan of the Red Cross’ Pet First Aid app is great and also contains other useful information, such as what your pet’s normal temperature should be. The Red Cross also teaches a short 1-2 day course on pet CPR, which I would recommend if you plan to spend a lot of time on the water together, and I would also recommend having a pet first aid kit on hand.”
Ellis points out that there is a very important consideration that needs to be made before CPR is performed. “You should ensure that your dog is in fact suffering cardiac arrest. If the dog’s tongue, gums, and lips are turning blue, then CPR is needed. Be aware that CPR can be extremely dangerous for a dog that doesn’t need it, so if you have the ability to get your pet to a nearby veterinary facility, I would recommend it as they have trained professionals who can help save your pet.”
DogVacay started in 2012 and is the leading online service connecting pet owners with over 20,000 loving sitters across the U.S. and Canada. They offer five-star-rated sitters that come with the DogVacay 24/7 customer support and daily photo updates of pets.