taking your dog to the beach

The summer holiday season is upon us once again and lots of us are looking forward to getting out and about at the seaside with our dogs. There are however a few things to bear in mind when planning your day out at the beach, or organising your dream holiday by the sea.

Not all beaches allow dogs on them during the summer months

Many beaches nowadays are completely out of bounds to dogs during the summer. Some have designated areas where dogs are allowed, even during the summer season. These rules usually apply from April to September. It is very easy to check on the internet, where you will also find an abundance of sites telling you which are the most dog friendly beaches around our coast.

Getting there

Once you have chosen where to go, the next step is planning your journey. If your dog is a seasoned traveller, then they will be happy to settle down on the journey – either in the boot behind a dog guard, or alternatively on a seat with a special doggy seat belt attached. If your dog is not a good traveller and you are going a fair distance, then it is worth having a chat with your vet. They will be able to offer advice on how to make your dog less anxious or nauseous during your trip.

Never leave your dog in the car in warm weather. Cars act like greenhouses and even on a cloudy day, temperatures inside can quickly become dangerously high.

Beach etiquette

Most of the following will be common sense, but nevertheless, owners not being considerate of others in the past, has led to the banning of dogs on so many of our coastal paths and beaches.


  • Always clean up after your dog and take waste away with you if you cannot find a bin.
  • Only let your dog off the lead if he/ she is trustworthy with other dogs and people.
  • Stick to the designated areas where dogs are allowed.
  • Always be aware of where your dog is and do not let them make a nuisance of themselves to other beach users. Remember there will be a lot of picnics around!

Beach safety for dogs

Beaches are fun places for dogs and people but they can also be dangerous. Below is a list of things to watch out for.


Don’t assume your dog can swim. They have to learn just like us and although some will naturally be strong swimmers, some will really struggle. So unless you know your dog is a strong swimmer, never throw things a long way out or encourage your dog to go out of his depth. You can buy your dog a life jacket if he is a regular swimmer. Always be mindful of rolling waves and strong currents, which could catch them unawares.

Eating sand

Believe it or not, dogs can ingest enough sand to cause a serious impaction in the gut. This is usually inadvertently swallowed from chasing very sandy toys or digging. So stop them if you notice this happening.

Dead fish

Do not let your dog eat dead sea creatures or birds found on the beach. This could result in food poisoning and serious illness due to toxins that are present in the decaying carcass.

Sea water

If you notice your dog lapping sea water, stop them. Sea water may be contaminated with bacteria or parasites and an overload of salt is also dangerous.

Foreign objects

Debris washed up on the beach is often tangled up with seaweed. One of the most dangerous items to be found are broken fishing lines with barbed fish hooks on the end. Sometimes dogs will be attracted to bait still attached and can swallow the hook, which will require a trip to the vets where they are likely to need an operation to remove it. Many other bits of discarded plastic or rubbish from peoples’ picnics can also be hazardous to dogs if swallowed, so a close eye needs to be kept on what they are eating at all times!

Heat exhaustion

Overexertion and exposure to a lot of sun can cause heat stroke in dogs. Many beaches in our country are lacking in shade and a source of fresh water. Dogs cannot take off their fur coats and many prefer not to go in the sea, so be aware that if the sun is very hot, you need to provide shade for them to rest in and remember to take plenty of fresh water for them to drink. White dogs with pink skin can also get sunburnt.

Rocks, hot sand and sore paws

It is not uncommon for dogs to have really sore paws after a day at the beach. They don’t have flip flops or sandals so can easily burn their paws on the hot sand, or damage the hard black outer layer of the pads on the unfamiliar rough rocks you often find around beaches.