Planning Your Pup-Safe Beach Vacation

| Erin Tursam

Taking your dog to the beach can be a fun-filled day for the whole family! Just make sure you're keeping everyone safe and cool with these 9 tips.


Does your dog love to run down the sandy shores or jump through the rolling surf? Well, a beach vacation might be just the right vacation for you and your pup this summer! Before you start packing a beach doggy bag, make sure you’ve done your homework and you’ll have an awesome beach vacay.

#1: Choose the Right Beach

Do your research and ensure you’ve chosen a dog-friendly beach. Some beaches allow dogs on a leash only, some allow off-leash, and others allow off-leash at certain times of the day or year. Make sure you’ve read all the rules for the beach your visiting. You can find dog beaches worldwide at BringFido. If your beach allows dogs to be off-leash, make sure that your dog has good recall and is friendly with other dogs.

#2: Come Prepared

Even if you are at an off-leash beach and your dog has a good recall, always have a leash on hand. Make sure your dog is wearing the proper identification like a dog tag. You should also never be without doggy waste disposal bags! Nothing ruins a day at the beach more than stepping in a landmine! Also have something to let your dog drink fresh water from, a towel, and some treats if needed.

#3: Check Your Surroundings

Before you choose your play area for the day, do a safety check of your surroundings. Look for harsh rocks or shells. Look for jellyfish, sea turtles, or dead fish washing ashore. Look for litter or trash that may injure your dog. Check out what is near the beach that might entice your dog to run off—playground, boardwalk, restaurants. Whenever you travel with your pets, identify where the closest veterinary office is. Better to know in advance than to be looking for a vet in an emergency.

#4: Be Ready for the Sun

The sun is always hotter and stronger at the beach so be extra prepared. Some shorter-coated breeds or hairless breeds may require pet-safe sunscreen. Dogs will often try to lick off the sunscreen, so check with a vet and read labels prior to applying a human sunscreen.

#5: Stay Cool

To avoid the heat, ensure your pup has adequate shade available. Bring a tent, an umbrella, or make sure there are trees or shelter nearby. Also, remember to do a touch-test of the ground or sand. If it’s too hot for your feet, it’s too hot for their paws. Avoid areas where the ground is hot, walk in the shade or on wet sand, and move across warm footing quickly if it is unavoidable. 

#6: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Just like you, dogs need plenty of fresh water at the beach. They may not stop to tell you they need a drink. Always carry fresh water and a container to serve it in and offer your pooch water frequently throughout the day. Dogs will often try to lap up the salty, ocean water. Though a little salt water won’t hurt them, you’ll want to limit the intake. It also might be an indication they are thirsty. Monitor your dog for heat stroke and exhaustion throughout the day. Be sure you take plenty of breaks. Dogs don’t self-limit and heat stroke can creep up silently and quickly.

#7: Be Ready for the Water

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs can swim! Before you let your pup dive in, make sure you’ve done a test swim in a pool or lake. Whether you have a gold medal swimmer Portuguese Water Dog or a Dachshund, it’s probably best if your dog doesn’t go further than they can stand. Sometimes, even dogs that typically love swimming are intimated by the waves. Don’t force your dog to go in the water if they're showing resistance or apprehension.

#8: Be Prepared for Play

Take precautions when playing fetch in the water. The ocean current can carry toys or sticks out entirely too far. If you’re worried, use an extra-long training leash when playing in the water or you can purchase your dog a life vest specifically made for dogs. Ensure you read all the sizing instructions to ensure you get the right fit for your dog.

#9: Post-Beach Care

So, your fun day at the beach is over and you are ready to relax. Relaxing is good, but first do some post-beach pet care. The salt water and sand can irritate some dog’s skin. A good rinsing with fresh water is a good idea or even a full bath might be in order. Check their coat for debris, as well as check paw pads for abrasions or debris.

If done properly, a beach vacation could be the perfect getaway for you and your pup. It might even be just what the veterinarian ordered!

Take some of the stress out of pet ownership with Accident & Illness Coverage from AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company). Our pet insurance plans are designed to be there when you need them, allowing you to focus more on the health of your pet and less on costly veterinary bills. Click here for a quote today!

Erin Tursam

Erin Tursam comes to AKC Pet Insurance with a background in veterinary medicine. As the Marketing Manager at PetPartners, she uses her knowledge and experience to help pet owners better understand the health needs of their pets and how pet insurance can help keep them happy and healthy. Erin lives in Apex, NC and has a 13-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and 7-year-old Doberman.


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