It’s a long hot summer, and many of us are excited to bring our dogs to the beach! Planning to hit the sand with your pal for the first time? Here are the top 9 tips for taking your dog to the beach for maximum fun and safety.
- Choose a dog-friendly beach
- Teach your dog to swim
- Find fresh water and shade
- Steer clear of choppy water
- Watch what they drink
- Provide sun protection
- Look out for dangers in the sand
- Rinse their fur
- Pick up their poop
First things first. Always check the local rules—they’re usually posted publicly—to make sure it’s okay to bring your dog to the beach. Luckily, there should be a few within driving distance. From Norfolk to Oahu, San Diego to New York City, dog-friendly beaches and swimming spots abound.
You can also soak up the sun at an off-leash dog park or dog beach. More and more dog owners are discovering pet-friendly destinations to visit with their dogs. If your idea of a great outing or vacation includes racing along the shoreline with your canine bud, you certainly have options.
Some dogs come ready to bring their A-game on the water; some—not so much. Don’t assume your dog is an automatic swimmer (okay, unless you have a lab), and take it nice and easy. If it’s your dog’s first time in the water, he may be tentative about diving right in. Consider easing into things with some dog swim lessons first.
For more helpful tips, check out our post about teaching your dog to swim.
Any time you take your dog out in the sun for an extended period of time, it’s important to provide opportunities for shady naps and hydration. The beach can be hard exercise, and blistering temps can lead to fatigue or dehydration. Pack plenty of water bottles and a drinking bowl for your dog.
Water that’s busy with large waves, boats, boards, or jet skis can scare your dog, so try to find an area with calm water. Even if your dog is an adventurous and capable swimmer, rip tides and rough water can be dangerous.
If your dog is a novice swimmer, keep him safe at the beach with a practical (and adorable) dog life vest. You’ll enjoy your beach day even more knowing your dog has that extra protection.
Mmm… salt. Many dogs love to drink salt water at the beach—but it’s not good for them. Do you best to limit drinking salt water and encourage hydrating with fresh water. Otherwise, you could be dealing with diarrhea and an upset tummy later on. A collapsible water dish is a great thing to pack. Don’t forget to bring plenty of fresh, cool water too!
Dogs can burn too, especially if they have light skin and fur or short hair. Just like humans, they’re also at risk for skin cancer.
Plan ahead and take your dog to the beach during periods of less intense sun. Limit sun exposure during the brightest parts of the day (10 am-4 pm).
Be aware that all sorts of items can be partially or fully hidden in the sand. Broken glass, rocks, hooks, coral, and garbage can pose a danger to your dog.
Another thing to look out for during your dog’s beach day: hot sand. If you’re wearing sandals, you might not realize how scorching the sand actually is. Avoid paw burns with dog booties, or walk your dog along the edge of the water.
Whether you’ve been hanging out in salt or fresh water, be sure you rinse off your dog’s coat to rid them of any sand, salt, and beach germs before you head home. Not only will this protect your car from a major mess, but it also prevents skin irritation caused by the sand and salt. If your dog’s skin is especially sensitive, these two offenders can cause serious itching.
A quick and simple rinse is all it takes to keep your furry friend fresh and odor-free.
Many dog-friendly beaches provide “mutt mitts” at the entrance, although you should also bring your own. Dog poop is a problem for fish and wildlife, so be mindful of picking it up to avoid water and soil contamination. Stash some poop bags in your beach tote to clean up after your dog.
If you’re looking to hit the waves and sand this summer, there’s no need to leave your dog at home. With a small amount of preparation and a healthy dose of caution, you can both enjoy the best day ever at the beach.