Will Sea & Salt Damage Your Dog Skin & Coat

Will Sea & Salt Damage Your Dog Skin & Coat

Author WDF Staff


Many of us feel that the sea and saltwater are as close to being in heaven as possible. However, is sea and salt going to damage your dog’s skin and coat? Many dog owners wonder the same thing, especially during the summer holidays when many of us take our dogs on vacation with us. If you wonder the same thing, here is what you should know about keeping your dog in top shape during the summer seaside holidays.

Is the sea water good for dogs?

The benefits humans get from sea water are very well documented and known. The good news is - dogs can enjoy the same benefits. However, like with anything else in your dog’s life, moderation is the key. You shouldn’t allow your dog to swim all day in the scorching heat. Make sure they get plenty of rest and proper hydration.

There is another thing that will influence how well your dog handles sea water - their breed. Not all dogs will enjoy it equally. Some are natural swimmers that love taking a dip in the ocean, and others might prefer staying dry and safe on the beach. Hairless dogs’ skin is directly exposed to salt and sun. Breeds like the Chinese Crested and American Hairless Terrier should have limited exposure to sea water. They can even get sunburnt. Breeds like the Golden Retriever have thick coats, which will protect their skin from salt.

dogue de bordeaux in the sea

Different breeds have different coats. Their coats might be naturally more greasy, which means the protective oils will block salt water absorption. That also means they can tolerate it a lot better than some other breeds. Some dogs with very thick coats, like the Akita, don’t tolerate water too well. The simple reason is that their coats are so thick they trap water. That creates ideal environments for bacteria that can cause itchiness, redness, and scaling.

Can sea and salt water be bad for dogs?

If you established your dog is one of those breeds that tolerates water well, you shouldn’t have a problem letting them have a quick swim in the sea. However, too much of a good thing can be bad. If your dog is overly exposed to salt water, there are some effects they will feel. The tricky thing is to know what exactly too much exposure is. Not all dogs will have the same reaction. Some physical effects your dog might feel are;

  • Dry skin
  • Coat less shiny
  • Flaky skin
  • Bald spots

Are there dogs that should stay away from sea water?

Most dogs can safely take a swim in the sea and feel absolutely fine. Their coat and skin will not be affected. In fact, they might even benefit from some salt water exposure. However, some breeds should take special care when swimming in the sea. Dogs with thick coats, especially Nordic breeds like the Husky, Akita, Shiba, Alaskan Malamute, Laika, Leonberger, etc. Their coats will trap the water in them and can cause skin irritations.

swimming dog

If you have a dog with fine, silky hair, it would be best to avoid too much salt water exposure. This is especially true if you want to take your dog to dog shows. Breeds like Yorkshire Terrier or Silky Terrier can get their delicate coats affected by sea and salt water, so you should limit their exposure.

Tips for keeping your dog’s skin and coat safe

If you are worried about the effect sea and salt water will have on your dog, there are a few things you can do to minimize the risk of exposure. If you want to keep your dog in the best possible condition during the summer holidays, here are the best things you can do;

  • Don’t bathe your dog before swimming - Bathing will remove the protective oils naturally present in their coat. It would be best not to bathe your dog for at least 2 weeks before they take a dip in the sea.
  • Rinse the salt water - You know that weird feeling you have on your skin after the salt water dries? Your dog can feel the same, so you should rinse them with fresh water after they get out of the sea.
  • Make sure your dog has shade - The dog’s skin can get extremely dry under the hot summer sun. Make sure they have plenty of shade while you are on the beach. Getting a tan is for humans; shade is for dogs.

In conclusion

There is usually nothing to be worried about swimming in salt water. Dogs will love it, and if you control the time they spend in salt water, they will benefit from it. Be careful if you have a show dog with a delicate coat or a Nordic breed with an extremely thick double coat. You should provide your dog with plenty of shade, rinse them after swimming, and don’t bathe them before they go swimming.

World Dog Finder team

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