Shelley Metcalf

Pet experts dish advice for beach-bound pups and owners.

By Jacquelyne Froeber

Justin Rudd and his English bulldog, Rosie, truly appreciate therolling Pacific waves and sandy shores of the West Coast. Almostfour years ago, Justin and other Southern California dog ownerscould only dream of strolling through the surf with their pets.

"I was tired of having the beach just blocks away and not beingable to share it with my dog," Justin says.

In 2004, 3 acres of Belmont Shore was officially deemeddog-friendly thanks to Justin and a team of pet lovers. At the DogZone, pets can run, swim, or simply lounge in the sand-no leashesrequired.

"Rosie loves it-most dogs do. They are running around, playingwith other dogs-they don't know what to do first," Justin says."Your dog doesn't have to swim, and don't force him to. Justspending time together in that atmosphere is fun."

Dog Zone is one of about 200 dog-friendly beaches in the UnitedStates, according to DogFriendly.com's United States and Canada Dog Travel Guide . But before heading to the beach, make sure you and your petare prepared for the coastal adventure.

Martin Senat, president of Huntington Dog Beach in California,says proper vaccination is crucial before hitting the shore. Themost important may be a Parvo shot, which helps guard againstparvovirus-a deadly disease. But don't worry about fleaprotection-if you use a systemic treatment for your pooch, itshould still be effective despite a little aquatic fun.

For any pup that is healthy and ready for the surf, SantaBarbara veterinarian Dr. Paula Kislak says owners should providefresh drinking water during warm weather. "Dogs don't sweat likehumans-instead they pant to get rid of the extra heat within theircore," she says. "Be aware that rapid panting and flopping out arethe main signs of heat stoke."

Paula adds that it's important to be wary of other dogs,especially when unleashed. Dogs can develop a pack mentality andbecome aggressive. "If you have an aggressive dog, don't bring himto the beach, or try to visit at odd hours when it's not busy. Ifyour dog isn't on a leash, be sure you have excellent voice commandbecause there are so many distractions."

Depending on the coastline, stingrays or jellyfish could lurk inthe shallow surf. Check the water before letting your pup jump in,and don't fret if your dog consumes salt water-most will on thefirst trip. A hefty consumption may cause an upset stomach, butusually no internal damage. Paula says keeping a close eye on yourdog will ensure that they stay happy and safe at the shore.

Tara Kain, author and editor in chief of DogFriendly.com, sayslocating a dog beach can be a challenge-but well worth the travelresearch. Her favorite dog-friendly beach is on Jekyll Island,Georgia. "The beach seems to stretch for miles. It's beautiful. Andour hotel was dog-friendly and within walking distance to thebeach. Perfect!"

DogFriendly.com and petswelcome.com can help youlocate pet-friendly beaches, lodging, and parks. Once you secure adestination, heed our coastal pet experts' advice about maintaininga clean environment. "We have to be responsible for thetemperaments of our dogs and clean up after them. If you don't,they won't be allowed at the beach, and it is a great resource,"Paula says. "It's nice exercise, they socialize with other dogs andpeople, and have a great time."

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