My dogs LOVE going to the beach!
They get so excited to watch the waves crash, dip their paws in the water, run around, dig in the sand, and people-watch. While a summer trip is always nice, I also love taking my two canine kids to the beach during the off-season. That’s when there aren’t as many restrictions, and I don’t have to worry about them overheating or getting a sunburn.
No matter what time of year you plan to take your pooch to the sandy wonderland, here are some tips that can help make your trip to the beach a breeze.
1) Visit a Dog-Friendly Beach
Not all beaches allow dogs so it’s important to do your homework before you slip into your flip flops and drive to the shore. A few years ago, I went to a San Diego beach with a good friend of mine and her dog. While San Diego is a dog-friendly city, the beach we went to that day was not. The beach police drove over to us and gave us a warning, asking us to leave. While it wasn’t a big deal, since she lived about 10 minutes away, if you’re vacationing with your pooch and something like that happens, it could become an issue.
During your search for dog-friendly beaches, it’s important to know that some beaches will allow dogs at certain times of the day and/or year. For example, I recently visited Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. The area I went to allowed dogs any time of the day during the off-season (I went in December, so all clear). That same beach during the summer months, however, doesn’t allow dogs between 10am-5pm.
2) Pack Extra Leashes
When researching beaches, also look to see if they have leash rules. Many beaches require you to keep your pooch on a leash and some places even have leash length rules. I personally like to bring the extendable leash so, at times, I can give my dogs some room to run.
3) Pack Poop Bags
After a long car trip to the beach, or a big meal on the boardwalk, your dog will most likely have to go number two. It’s to be expected. With that said, cleaning up after your dog is also something that should be expected! No one wants to step on, or accidentally pick up, a sandy piece of poo. So be courteous and bring a roll of poop bags.
4) Bring Plenty of Fresh Water
While there is plenty of water at the beach already, don’t let your pooch drink the salty ocean water. It’s not good for them! Instead, make sure to fill a cooler with ice and plenty of water bottles so your canine kid can stay hydrated.
5) Provide Shade
Running around in the blazing sun can leave your dog panting and overheated. Since panting is the main way a dog cools off, heavy panting isn’t something to ignore. You may not realize it, but heat exhaustion and heat stroke can happen very quickly. In fact, every year thousands of dogs get sick and many die from a heat-related illness. So when you are visiting the beach, bring an umbrella or rent one of those cute canopies to give your dog a much-needed break from the harsh sun.
6) Use Dog-Approved Sun Screen
Yes, dogs can get sunburned. In fact, your pup is at risk of all the same dangers as we are when it comes to UV rays. I’m talking about painful sunburn, tumors, skin cancer, etc. While all dogs are at risk, some are more susceptible than others. Just like humans, the lighter the dog, the greater the risk. Just as you would protect yourself and your human kids, you need to protect your fur kids. Only use a sunscreen made for dogs. Never use human sunscreen on your pooch. Most human sunscreens contain zinc oxide, PABA, and other chemicals which should not be licked or ingested. They are toxic to your dog and can be fatal. The dog sunscreen I have posted here states that it is the only FDA approved dog sunscreen on the market.
7) Protect Your Pup’s Paws
The sand at certain beaches is extremely course and blazing hot, which is pretty taxing of your pup’s tootsies. Additionally, you never know if there are sharp seashells or broken glass bottles hiding in the sand. A huge misconception that many people have is: a dog’s paws can tolerate anything. That’s not true. Just like human feet, paws can crack, blister, and bleed. To keep precious paws safe, avoid certain areas of the beach and apply a high-quality paw wax to their paw pads before taking your dog for a run in the sand. I also like to rub a little coconut oil on my pooch’s paws after a long day playing in the sand.
If you notice your dog’s paws have been cut or cracked after a beach day, check out these tips.
8) Consider Using a Life-Vest
While I don’t personally take my little guys swimming at the beach, a lot of dogs love it. If you let your dog take a little dive in the ocean waves, consider strapping on a life vest for extra safety measures.
9) Dry Your Dog’s Ears
If your dog is prone to ear infections, left-over moisture from an ocean swim could become a big problem. Make sure to dry your dog’s ears thoroughly. Plus, you may want to look into a good ear rinse, like this one.
10) Bring a First-Aid Kit
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Anything from sunburn and heat exhaustion to cuts, scrapes, and bruises can happen at the beach. That’s why it’s important to always be prepared and have a dog-friendly first-aid kit handy. Not sure what to put in your kit? No worries! I’ve created an entire item checklist for you, filled with 18 essentials.
11) Wipe The Sand Out Of Your Pup’s Face
Another thing my dogs love to do once they get to the beach is dig. They would dig for hours if I let them! While I think it’s adorable, they always wind up with sand stuck to their nose and around their eyes. If your dogs are like mine, pack a small microfiber cloth and gently wipe their face periodically to keep the sand out of the eyes, nose, and mouth.
12) Don’t Stress Over Sand In The Car
It’s going to happen. However, if you really want to try to keep your car clean, you can always try using a car hammock like this one.
13) Give Your Pup a Bath After a Beach Day
Once you get home from a long day at the beach, pop your pooch in the tub and scrub, scrub, scrub! Since all of the sand and salt can irritate their skin, it’s important to give them a good cleaning.
14) Take Plenty of Pictures!
Trips to the beach are great memories. Whether you have access to the beach year-round, or you have to travel to the sandy paradise, it’s always fun to snap some pictures so you can look back at the day and smile!