Few things make dogs happier than hitting the beach! And what pet lover can resist watching their pup romp in the waves and dig in the sand? It’s one of those trips that you’ll remember for a lifetime. But what precautions should you take to ensure a day of fun doesn’t end in disaster? Below are ten things you need to know to keep your dog safe at the beach.

Golden Retriever puppy jumping on the beach


Keeping Your Dog Safe At The Beach

The last thing you want is to have your pet friendly beach getaway end with a trip to the vet! Here are a few things to keep in mind so that everyone has a great day:

1. Not all dogs can swim.

That’s right, the doggy paddle does not come naturally to every dog. In fact, certain breeds like Corgis and Pugs don’t swim at all! Find out if your pup can swim in quiet water by encouraging him to follow you. If he seems interested but doesn’t have the skills, learn how you can teach him to swim safely.

2. Invest in a life vest.

Waves, current, and rip tides can quickly exhaust your dog, and that can be deadly. If your dog likes to swim in the ocean, the best time of day is after low tide when the water is coming back in. Tide charts can easily be found online.

Also consider getting your dog a life vest. When choosing which life vest will work best, look for one that fastens at three points and has a handle on the back, making it easy for you to lift your dog out of the water.

3. Drinking salt water is a bad idea.

This is logical, and yet many dogs try to lap up the ocean. Be sure to bring plenty of fresh water and a bowl for your dog, so he’s not tempted to find his own water source.

Dog drinking from water bowl

4. Beware of submerged dangers.

When you arrive at the beach, take note of sharp rocks, shells, coral, or jellyfish that might injure your dog. And, remember dogs often don’t show when they’re in pain, so watch his body language and carefully check him for cuts and scrapes. On outings with your dogs, it important to always keep your first aid kit handy.

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5. Calm water is best.

Even at a distance, surf boards, jet skis, boats, and big waves can frighten your dog. Your best bet is to find a quiet place to play with your pup, or locate a local dog beach were surfing and boating are not allowed.


6. Cold water can hurt.

If your dog has arthritis or other joint issues, swimming in cold water can irritate the condition. Stick to shallow water and bays where the water is warmer.

7. Hot sand can burn.

Even on days that aren’t super-hot, the sand can become hot enough to burn your dog’s paws. Always test the sand with your bare feet to determine if your dog needs booties or other protection for his paws.

8. Dogs need protection from the sun.

You’re not the only one who needs to be concerned with sunburn! Bring an umbrella, tent, or other shade structure that will accommodate you and your dog. And don’t forget to apply a sunscreen specially formulated for dogs to your pup’s nose and ears 30 minutes before hitting the beach and several times during the day.

Florida's Top Pet Friendly Attraction: Fort De Soto Park and Dog Beach | GoPetFriendly.com

9. Don’t overdo it.

Running on sand is strenuous, so don’t expect your dog to be able to fetch as long as he might at the dog park. And, start slow, giving him time to warm up to avoid a muscle pull.

10. Rinse thoroughly.

When you’re done playing, take time to rinse salt, sand, and microscopic organisms from your dog’s coat. Also, be sure to dry your dog’s ears as moisture in the ear canal can cause ear infections.


Some Top-notch Pet Friendly Beaches

Now that you know how to keep your dog safe at the beach, it’s time to start planning your trip! Not all beaches are pet friendly, and some only allow dogs a during certain hours or at specific times of the year. Here are some of our favorite beaches where dogs are welcome all day, every day:

Cannon Beach, Oregon

With plenty of space to find a stretch that’s all yours, the only restriction at dog friendly Cannon Beach is that dogs must either be leashed or under the voice control of their owners.

Black German Shepherd dog running on the dog friendly beach at Cannon Beach, OR

Carmel, California

This mile-long stretch of golden sand runs just steps from downtown Carmel to just below the 9th hole at Pebble Beach Golf links – and it’s all pet friendly! Dogs are welcome to romp off-leash, or visit nearby Carmel River State Beach, where leashed pets will find plenty to explore.
California's Top Pet Friendly Attraction: Carmel Beach | GoPetFriendly.com

Galveston, Texas

For a dog friendly beach vacation, Galveston is perfect! You’ll find history, food, and 32 miles of Gulf Coast sand to enjoy with your best friend.

Galveston Beach - Galveston, TX
Photo credit: Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau


Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana

Caribbean blue waters and miles of pet friendly beaches await you at pet friendly Indiana Dunes National Park! There are multiple beaches to choose from, and leashes are required.
Indiana's Top Pet Friendly Attraction: Indiana Dunes Lakeshore | GoPetFriendly.com

Mackinac Island Lakeshore, Michigan

Visiting Mackinac Island is a one-of-kind experience. Automobiles aren’t allowed, but you and your pet won’t have any trouble getting around, and dogs are welcome to play on the lakeshore.
Black German Shepherd Dog swimming at the beach on Mackinac Island, MI

Wildwood Dog Beach, New Jersey

On this lovely, wide stretch of beach leashed dogs are always welcome. Just look for the gigantic fire hydrant and enjoy a day of sand and surf together.
New Jersey's Top Pet Friendly Attraction: Wildwood Dog Beach | GoPetFriendly.com


Tell us about your favorite dog friendly beach in the comments!



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  • Hello! Thank you for this really useful and important article for dogs’ owners. I think first of all you can take your dog to the swimming pool and teach your dog to swim there and only then take the dog to the sea or the ocean. I also have a dog and I can’t wait to take her to the beach, we rescued her as a middle-aged dog and her previous owner didn’t take her out much so getting her to try new experiences has been a challenge. We’ll make a lake dog out of her one day! Thanks for the pieces of advice!

  • Category: Travel Tips / Tagged with: Beaches