June Pet Peeve
What is your pet’s “pet peeve”? What is the question your pet would ask, if they could? We are going to have fun with this column every month while answering some of your pet’s burning questions! The Pet Peeve of June that we are going to address is:
My mommy walks me on the beach, but never lets me play and swim with the other dogs. Is it safe for me to play and swim with other dogs at the beach? Thank you, Papi.
Great Question Papi!
In general, the answer is YES, with a few words of caution. When I think of the potential hazards at the beach, we need to address both environmental concerns and dog infectious disease concerns.
Regarding the environment, let’s start with the water. Water in the PNW is in general very safe. If it is safe for us humans, it is safe for dogs. I always recommend a shower or rinse in clean tap water after a swim, this is very important after salt water. Algae blooms can be very deadly and, as a pet parent, you need to be aware of these alerts that can occur, especially as the weather warms up. Giardia, a protozoal parasite, can be present in any fresh water. Many of our adult dogs are resistant to the parasite and will not get sick from consumption. Others will get diarrhea. Giardia is a risk that is hard to avoid and there is no preventative. Thankfully it is a low risk of infection and, most often, easily treated by your veterinarian. Another disease that can be transmitted through the water is Leptospirosis, a very serious bacterial infection that can be present in large bodies of water like Lake Washington or in small puddles in the yard. Though treatable, prevention is the key- be sure your dog is current on its annual Lepto vaccine. Other environmental factors include the sand and parking lot. If the sand is too hot for you to walk on with bare feet, it is likely too hot for your dog! The largest environmental concern I have is the cars in the parking lot or on the road- make sure we keep the dogs on leash when there is any potential of them getting hit!
Infectious disease concerns; what if they share their ball with another dog? Thankfully, there is not a large risk of sharing disease between dogs. The number one concern is kennel cough. Kennel cough is the term that is frequently used for infectious respiratory disease in dogs. It is caused by either a bacteria or a virus, often both. Dogs can “share” just like we can with the common cold. The primary way to protect your dog is to keep them well vaccinated against the infectious agents that cause kennel cough. Another disease, that they potentially could share would be parvo. Parvo is a viral disease that is most common in puppies. It is very deadly and it is critical to have your dog fully protected before it is out sharing tennis balls with others!
Overall, the benefits of having fun with your dog at the beach, the social experience for your four-legged friend, and the importance of exercise far out ways the potential risk. Having your dog fully vaccinated, placing them on a parasite prevention program and the use of good old common sense will dramatically decrease the risk of bad outcomes from the experience. Be sure to follow your instincts: if the water is dangerous for you to go in, think twice about it for your dog; if there is an aggressive dog present, think twice about going off leash; if your dog does not mind well, think twice before letting them run loose with cars around. We are blessed with wonderful water opportunities throughout the Puget Sound and especially on Mercer Island; they are that better when enjoyed with our “best friend”.
I am happy to address any particular questions on this matter, or any other pet peeves you have by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please submit your pet peeve questions to address in future editions of this magazine to email@example.com.