Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 29th 2013 Contents B6
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt September 29, 2013
The dog days of summer are over but T&T is
blessed with a climate that ensures throughout the
year, many families can pack the little ones and
dogs into cars and head for a day of fun and sun
on our beautiful beaches.
Public safety is important so make sure your dog
is legally permitted on the beach you choose, leashed
if he has the tendency to run away from you, and
that you walk with a plastic bag to scoop if he poops.
Equally important is the safety of your dog.
Humans slather their bodies with sunscreen to
protect their skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet
rays---and mistakenly think that the dog s fur protects
him. Dogs are also exposed to cancer-causing rays
and those with short hair, white fur or pink skin are
particularly vulnerable. Sun lotion manufactured for
dogs or child-safe suntan lotion can be applied to
the dog but avoid using human sunscreen that con-
tains para-aminobenzoic acid and zinc oxide which
are toxic to the dog if licked.
Just as humans seek shade under umbrellas and
coconut trees dotted along the beach, so too do dogs
require periods out of the sun. Dogs can easily become
heat-exhausted and even suffer from heat-strokes.
High-energy dogs will run forever if given the chance,
so make sure you intersperse his romping in the sun
with rest breaks in the shade.
All of this exercise causes increased water loss
through muscle contraction, respiration, and evap-
oration from the skin, leaving the dog with a raging
thirst. If no fresh water is provided, he will resort
to drinking seawater. Drinking salt water too quickly
results in vomiting, leading to further dehydration.
Salt water also has an osmotic effect, pulling liquid
into the dog s intestines and causing "beach diarrhoea"
which is frequent, projectile, and often covered with
blood or mucous.
High concentrations of ingested salt will increase
the sodium level in the blood causing "hypernatremia"
which results in seizures, comas, brain swelling, and
death. Sand ingested with salt water can exacerbate
the effects of the salt water itself, as it can irritate
the lining of the intestines. Bacteria, algae or other
microorganisms or toxins in the water can cause
more severe symptoms.
Remember that dogs do not only need to drink
the seawater: they will also ingest seawater simply
from swimming, splashing about in the waves with
mouths open and tongues hanging out, as well as
from grasping balls and sticks tossed into the water
when playing fetch. You should therefore ensure that
you offer clean, fresh water frequently (every 15 min-
utes) while on the beach.
Dogs fall into one of three categories when it comes
to swimming: those who can swim, those who can
be taught to swim, and those who should steer clear
Dogs bred specifically for game retrieval in water
or water rescue, such as water spaniels, setters and
retrievers, have strong limbs allowing them to swim
easily and often take to water like ducks. Other dogs
can be encouraged to swim by following
their owners into the water, going out to
fetch balls or floating toys, or observing and
imitating other dogs who enjoy swimming.
Breeds with large, heavy chests in relation
to their hind-quarters, such as bulldogs,
dachshunds and boxers, do not have enough
thrust from their short legs to keep them
afloat and sink like bricks. Breeds with short
muzzles, like pugs, fatigue easily because
they have difficulty keeping their noses
above water to breathe properly. Small-
breed dogs who become easily chilled or
are frightened of water will panic and can
drown. Your pet s like or dislike of water
should therefore be taken into account and
no dog should ever be forced to swim.
Swimming is tiring so do not allow your
dog to overdo it, and make sure you avoid
keeping him in water with strong currents
and rip tides.
At the end of the day, remember to rinse
your dog off with fresh water to remove all
traces of salt water which irritates his skin
and can cause infections.
Enjoy your day at the beach!
Sea, sand and dogs
Copyright © Kristel-Marie Ramnath 2013.
For further information contact 689-8113
or bestpetsbehave@ hotmail.com
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