As you know we are well in to the school summer holidays! This means that thousands of families will be heading to the Seaside with their children and pooches. There really is nothing better than feeling the warm sand between your toes and having a paddle or swim in the sea. Hopefully the sun will be shining and a gentle breeze will keep everyone just nice and comfortable; a perfect scene I’m sure you’ll agree. With such good fun to be had it’s easy to relax and let your guard down, but there are a few hazards for dogs (and humans) at the beach that I just want you to be aware of.
You may not know this, but our Canine friends are actually really sensitive to the effects of salt water (Sodium Chloride). Sea water is very salty, as I’m sure we all know from having swallowed our fair share of it as kids when messing around in the sea! Dogs generally like the sea whatever breed they are; some prefer to fully embrace the swimming experience, whilst others have a cheeky paw-dip at the waters’ edge. At the seaside it is all too easy for them to ingest clinically significant quantities of salt water very quickly and easily, so a keen eye must be kept on them.
If your pooch swallows salt water they will usually vomit after a few minutes and rid their bodies of a lot of it, but if they don’t more serious Neurological signs can develop up to several hours later. The severest cases cause convulsions, muscular rigidity, renal (kidney) failure, shock, and coma; unfortunately there have been doggy deaths as a result of excessive salt/Sodium ingestion.
At Saint Leonard we would urge you to ring us if you suspect your dog has drunk salt water. We can quickly discover if there is a need for treatment, which centres on replacing water and electrolytes (via Intra venous drips) to restore their normal balance and helping your fur-babys’ kidneys expel the excess salt. Mild cases only need supervised oral rehydration that involves small amounts of fresh water being given at frequent periods of time.
Another hazard in the sea is Jellyfish, and these can be problematic to furry and non-furry family members alike thanks to their painful stings. Even when dead Jellyfish are capable of delivering a sting for several weeks post-mortem; curious dogs that lick or have a sneaky nibble of any Jellyfish may get stung.
Areas that aren’t particularly furry, such as noses and the areas around the eyes and mouth are more susceptible to being stung, as are male dogs’ dangly “boy bits” unfortunately. It quickly becomes apparent if a sting has occurred and the effects can last for several hours. Common signs are vomiting, swelling (Oedema), hyper salivation, irritation of the mouth, general distress and pain, raised temperature, and diarrhoea. Twitching and breathing changes may also occur, and skin irritation may also be seen.
If a sting has happened then wash the area copiously with Seawater as soon as possible; at least there will be a limitless supply! Don’t rub the area with sand as this will be very painful, and don’t rub any remains of tentacles away; just gently pull them off, remembering not to expose yourself to any stinging parts (use something to cover your fingers).
Bring Fido to us here at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre so that we can administer painkillers, anti-histamines, and Steroids as needed to get them feeling tip-top again in double-jig time.
Palm oil can cause your dog problems if they encounter it washed up on the beach and decide they want to eat it. The most common symptoms of ingesting it are vomiting and diarrhoea, especially the latter thanks to Palm oils’ rapid onset laxative effect. If severely affected, dehydration can occur, as well as Pancreatitis (swelling of the Pancreas) in chronic cases. If your pooch ingests palm oil please do NOT force them to be sick; due to the semi-solid nature of the oil there is an increased risk of aspiration (where the vomit gets into the lungs) which we really want to avoid as it can cause a lot of problems. In most cases treatment is supportive in nature to make your dog comfortable whilst the symptoms pass.
I have mentioned in a previous blog the importance of shade for your dog, and it very important to erect a sun-screen of some sort as there typically isn’t any shade available at the beach. Not only will it keep Fido cool and happy but it will help other family members avoid over-heating and sunburn too; win-win. Don’t forget some cool fresh water and a bowl for your dog too, and keep yourselves hydrated as it is all too easy to get sun-stroke.
On a more positive note, there is nothing better for the soul than a sunny, fun-filled day out at the beach so if you get chance this summer, go and enjoy yourselves. Postcards and photos are always welcome for display at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre, and a stick of rock always goes down a treat too!
Until next time; stay safe, stay well, and be happy!