Dog owner's question
"Hi! I own a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and am taking him to the beach for the first time this summer. What behavioural and health issues should I be prepared for and what advice can you give me on this?"
Answer from the vet
The Great Swiss Mountain Dog originally lived in the mountainous areas of Switzerland where cool weather and rough terrain were commonplace.
That's why it's important to prepare your dog's reaction to the beach experience, which will be a completely new environment for him!
Behaviorally, Great Swiss Mountain Dogs are extremely friendly and generally respond well to new people and situations.
However, there are many new and exciting novelties at the beach – lots of people, big waves, strange birds, unfamiliar smells – that can make your dog excited or timid.
It's important to be patient during your dog's first few visits and allow him to get used to the environment at his own pace.
From a health point of view, there are a few things to look out for.
Firstly, Great Swiss Mountain Dogs have thick, dark coats, which means they can be prone to heat stroke in the heat.
Make sure you always have fresh water for your dog and find a shady spot for him to rest if it gets too hot.
Secondly, sand and salt water can irritate your dog's skin and eyes, especially if he spends long periods of time in water or sand.
Check your dog's skin regularly and if you notice any redness, bumps or itching, take him to the vet immediately.
Thirdly, parasites such as fleas and ticks are common on the beach.
Check your dog's coat every day and use an anti-parasite treatment to prevent these pesky parasites from taking up residence.
Finally, if your dog is prone to panic attacks or anxiety, for example when exposed to loud noises or unfamiliar situations, the sound of waves or the sudden movements of other bathers may be causing him stress.
In such cases, it's helpful to take a calming toy or reward treat with you to help your dog calm down!
Remember that every dog is unique, and your Great Swiss Mountain Dog may have specific needs and reactions at the beach.
Be patient, listen to your dog's signs and try to create a positive and calm environment for him!
I hope these tips help you on your beach adventure.
Above all, the most important thing is to enjoy your time together and ensure your dog's safety and comfort. I wish you all a wonderful holiday!"