Here’s the first, most important step to planning a beach day for your dog: find out if the beach is pet-friendly, since many prohibit dogs. If dogs are allowed, review the beach's guidelines -- dogs may be required to stay in restricted areas, or be on a leash for their visit -- and follow some simple safety steps to ensure that your dog’s day of sand, waves, and sunshine is safe as well as fun.
Beware of Heatstroke
A long day in the sun poses some risks for your dog, with heatstroke and dehydration as the biggest potential problems. Watch for an inordinate amount of panting, trouble breathing, and disorientation. If the water is particularly chilly, or if your visit occurs during the wintertime, hypothermia
can be a concern, particularly with smaller breeds. Keep an eye out for shivering, disorientation, slow breathing, and stiff muscles.Related Story: How to Identify Signs of Heatstroke in Your Dog
Water Safety: Does Your Dog Need a Life Vest?
Is your dog a swimmer? Many dogs love to swim, taking to the waves confidently. If that’s not the case for your dog, be cautious about allowing your dog in the water. Some breeds are skittish by the ocean; other breeds are simply not capable of swimming. If you’re at all in doubt about how your dog will respond, put a dog life vest on your pet.Related Story: 4 Safety Tips for Dressing Your Pet
Keep an Eye On Your Dog
While you’re at the beach, make sure you’re always watching your dog. Many beaches require pets to stay on a leash; even if the one you’re visiting does not, make sure to keep dogs on a leash if they don’t respond well to voice commands. Your dog should have a good time, but not impede the fun of other beachgoers -- curtail rampages across the beach that might lead to sand being flung on sunbathers.Shop: Leashes for Your Dog
Bring Dog-Friendly Beach Supplies
Load up your beach bag with supplies for your dog. Some of the most important things to bring to the beach for your dog’s fun and safety are:
- A water bowl and water: Provide your dog plenty of fresh water to ensure hydration. You’ll also want to avoid having your dog slurp down salt water, which can lead to sickness.
- An umbrella: Make sure there’s some source of shade for when your dog needs a break from the sunshine.
- A blanket or towel: The heat of the sand can be painful on your dog’s paws. A blanket or towel will allow a break from the exposure, and a comfy place for a nap.
- Sunscreen: Only use dog-friendly sunscreen on your pet; sunscreen intended for people may have chemicals, scents, or other problematic ingredients which dogs could easily ingest while licking their fur.
- Toys!: Don’t forget, you’re here for fun. Safety is important, but also make sure to bring a Frisbee, floating toy, and fun toys for your dog to fetch.
In general, use your common sense; like you, your dog should avoid too much time in the sun, especially during the hottest part of the day, hydrate frequently, reapply sunscreen after being in the water, and take breaks in the shade.Shop: Balls and Other Fetching Toys
Be Respectful of the Beach
Don’t leave any of your dog’s waste behind -- it could be an unpleasant surprise for other beach-goers. Prevent dogs from entering areas that are marked as off limits, which may often be environmentally protected areas.When it’s time to take off for the day, use an outdoor shower, or a bucket or bottle of fresh water, to rinse off the sand, sunscreen, and saltwater from your dog. Use a towel (or the sunshine!) to dry off your dog. If you’re traveling by car, put down a blanket in the backseat to keep the car dry and tidy.What are your tips for a trip to the beach with your dog? Try PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more, for all your doggy beach supply needs.