Dogs on the beach

It’s time to hit the beach and whether you’re heading to the coast for a day trip or planning a seaside holiday, there’s no reason why your dog can’t join you. Even the most tourist-heavy seaside towns tend to have areas of beach that allow dogs all year round. Most dogs love to frolic on the beach – whether that means paddling, digging or chasing balls on the sand. Follow our top tips to make sure all your beach visits are fun for all.

1. Check the dog restrictions of your chosen beach

During the summer months, some beaches are strictly off limits to dogs and these should be clearly marked with signs. Some areas will allow dogs as long as they are kept on a lead and others will welcome free-running dogs. Before you arrive at your chosen beach check the restrictions with the tourist information office or on the local council’s website to avoid disappointment.

2. Be prepared

As well as packing your picnic, towels and beach ball there are some things you should remember to pack for your pet.

  • Fresh water and a dog bowl. Don’t let your dog drink sea water as the salt will likely make them sick. If your dog is running around in the heat, they’ll soon need a drink. Collapsible bowls or cups are perfect for on the go.
  • Beach shelter or shade. If it’s hot your dog could soon overheat if there is no shade. Pack a shelter or parasol to create some shade so your dog has somewhere to chill out. You could also place a cooling mat underneath for the perfect cooling-off cave.
  • A toy to throw. If your dog enjoys playing fetch, pack a ball or frisbee for them to run after.
  • Doggie life jacket. If your dog likes to go right into the water, it’s a good idea to get them a life jacket as a buoyancy aid. A jacket with a handle on the back is especially useful if you need to pull your dog out of the water.
  • Towel. Make sure you have a towel for your dog so you can dry them off after a dip.
  • Poo bags. Don’t forget to pick up after your dog to keep the beach clean and enjoyable for everyone.
  • Sun cream. If you have a dog with a very thin coat or light skin, they could get sunburnt on a very sunny day. You can get sun cream specifically designed for dogs and you should focus on the ears and nose, which are the areas at most risk of burning. You can also get nose and paw balm to soothe weathered noses and pads, as well as protect them from the elements.

3. Know the signs of heatstroke

If it’s hot, keep an eye on your dog for signs of heat exhaustion. If they start panting a lot, or seem lethargic, encourage them to lie in the shade with a nice cool drink and a damp towel on them. If they pant excessively, foam at the mouth, shake or become disorientated with an increased heart rate, you should contact a vet immediately as they are likely suffering from heatstroke.

Heatstroke can be very serious and sadly can be fatal if not treated quickly enough. Some dogs – such as those with flat faces or who have very thick coats – will be more at risk of heatstroke than others.

4. Check the tide times

At low tide you need to watch out for riptides, where a strong current could pull a paddling dog under the water and away from the shore. At high tide you need to be aware of any sandbanks that could become cut off so your dog doesn’t get stranded out at sea.

The safest time for your dog to go into the water would be when the sea is steady and the tide isn’t about to come in or out.

5. Keep out of choppy water

If your dog likes going into the sea, only allow it if the waves are not too big as your dog could get easily swept away. Areas of water where there are lots of boats, jet skis or surfboards are best avoided with your dog too. Choose somewhere calm and quiet if they want to go in for a swim.

6. Watch out for hazards on the sand

All sorts of items can find themselves washed up on the beach and might be partially or fully hidden beneath the sand. Broken glass, bits of driftwood, sharp rocks or shells, as well as litter, can all cause cut paws if stepped on.

Pay attention for any washed-up dead fish which your dog might try to eat or jellyfish that could give a nasty sting if stepped on.

7. Rinse well before leaving

Before you leave the beach, ensure you thoroughly rinse your dog off with fresh water to remove any salt or sand from their coat. If left, it could dry the skin out and cause it to become irritated. It will also stop your dog licking too much salt off of their coat on the way home, which could make them sick.


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