Beach fun and beach safety go hand in hand, or is it hand in paw? To help ensure the doggy days of summer at the beach are good ones, the Southern California Medical Assn. offers these tips:
* Before you head to the beach with your pooch, find out if dogs are allowed, what hours they are allowed and whether they have to be on a leash. Even if the beach doesn't require a leash, bring one anyway. Walking to and from the car will be easier if you have good control over your dog.
* Never leave your dog in the car, even if it's to scout out the best place on the beach or if you discover your dog is not allowed. The inside of a car can heat up to more than 150 degrees in only three minutes. Your dog will become overheated and die in less than 15 minutes.
* Bring towels or blankets, preferably two: one for drying and one for the back seat of the car.
* Remember to bring a small bag of dry kibble or treats and plenty of fresh water for your pet. Drinking saltwater can create tremendous gastrointestinal problems that can result in dehydration. A thirsty dog may drink about a pint of fresh water for each 10 pounds of weight.
* Be alert to things your dog may be trying to eat on the beach. Eating sand can lead to gastrointestinal upset and even bowel obstruction.
* A waterproof collar with ID tag is a must. Permanent tattoos or a high-tech microchip ID will help reunite you with your pet should you get separated.
* Bring plastic bags to clean up your dog's waste immediately. Remember, people are lying down or playing in the sand.
* All surf and riptide warnings apply doubly to your dog. The undertow will drag your dog down and easily drown it.
* The sun can burn your dog's skin just as easily as yours, especially white-faced dogs. Apply waterproof sun block accordingly. A big beach umbrella will provide welcome shade for your dog too.
* As hot as the sand feels to you, you can be sure that your dog's feet can be burned too. If this happens, soak your pet's feet in cool water when you get home, and, if necessary, rub on some Vaseline.
* Before heading for home, check your dog over very thoroughly. Look for cuts or lacerations from sharp shells or rocks, or wads of black, sticky tar that may need to be clipped out before your dog gets back in the car.