VIRGINIA BEACH — When the sun is out during the summer months it can seem intuitive to hit the beach with your best four-legged friend — but proceed with caution.
Meghan Conti is an animal control supervisor here who said dog owners should know the rules of the Oceanfront during peak seasons and should also be mindful when it comes to how extreme heat can affect a dog.
While heat indexes in Hampton Roads approached nearly 110 degrees in the recent week, Animal Control units were out issuing citations for pets on the beach where the sand was 139 degrees.
Those responses would lead to the investigation of possible animal cruelty or inadequate care cases, Conti said.
“Heat exhaustion in dogs is very serious and could lead to heatstroke or death if not addressed immediately,” she said.
While there are other factors that would determine a cruelty case, Conti said “one rule of thumb is that if the sand is too hot for you to walk barefooted on, it is too hot for your dog.”
Some ways to know if your pet is experiencing heat exhaustion include panting, drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, or collapsing.
If an owner notices those signs, Conti said they should remove their pet from the heat if possible, use a cool (not cold) wet towel or fan to help them lower their body temperature, and give them plenty of fresh cool water.
If there are questions, Conti said pet owners should always consult their veterinarian.
Summer beach laws for pets
Virginia Beach City Code 6.5 outlines laws for pet owners during the spring, and peak season which spans from 6 p.m. Friday before Memorial Day to 6 p.m. on Labor Day.
During peak season, pets are allowed on beaches outside of Rudlee and 42nd (resort areas) between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. if leashed or “under the control of the owner,” according to the city code.
As long as they’re on a leash, pets can be on the boardwalk and grassy area to the west of the boardwalk from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the summer.