SAN DIEGO–For animal guardians planning summer beach vacations and wanting to include the whole family in the fun, PETA has rounded up the best tips and tricks for keeping pooches cool during summer activities.

  • First, use common sense: Never try to force a dog to go in the water. Some dogs will never forgive you, and those who like swimming won’t need much coaxing.
  • Sand can be hard on older or frail canine knees. Even with younger dogs, exercise moderation—the beach can be so exciting, especially initially, that they can sometimes overdo it.
  • Always take plenty of fresh drinking water and a bowl. Salt water can make dogs vomit and become dehydrated, and they need water to cool down in that fur coat.
  • Know your dog: If dogs are allowed off leash, only unleash them if you know they won’t run away or behave aggressively. Don’t let them out of your sight, and if you have more than one dog, don’t let them get too far apart. Use treats to encourage them to come to you reliably when called.
  • Never let dogs go into the water if it’s particularly choppy and rough, such as right before or after a storm—and if you see lightning, get off the beach immediately.
  • Dogs should never be permitted to harass wildlife, such as chasing, digging up, and killing sand crabs. Instead, take a ball along, or encourage them to start digging that hole to China.
  • Be on the lookout for discarded fishing tackle (including hooks) left in the sand. Picking up dangerous litter like fishhooks and broken glass will help both your dog and marine wildlife.
  • Find out if—and when—the beach allows fireworks, and avoid going at those times, as the explosions can be extremely frightening to dogs. Find out what you can do to calm your dog’s nerves during fireworks on PETA’s blog.
  • Never leave an animal in a parked car in warm weather—even just briefly and with the windows partially rolled down. A dog trapped inside a hot car can succumb to heatstroke within minutes—even if the car isn’t parked in direct sunlight.

PETA notes that if dogs are showing symptoms of heatstroke—including restlessness, heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, and lack of coordination—get them into the shade immediately. Lower their body temperature by providing water, applying a cold towel to the neck and chest, or immersing them in tepid (not ice-cold) water. Then immediately call a veterinarian.