14 Tips For Taking Your Dog To The Beach

My dogs LOVE going to the beach!

They get so excited to run around, dig in the sand, watch the waves crash, dip their paws in the water, and people-watch. While summer trips are always nice, I also take 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.

2) Pack Extra Leashes

When researching beaches, also look to see if they have leash rules. Many beaches require you to keep your dog on a leash and some places even have leash length rules.

3) Pack Poop Bags

After a long car trip to the beach or a big meal on the boardwalk, your dog will most likely need to go to the bathroom. It’s to be expected. With that said, cleaning up after your dog is also 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. 

My absolute favorite brand is Frisco (sold at Chewy.com), and I get the Refill Dog Poop Bags + 2 Dispensers, 900-count. Yup, 900! In my house, I have one entire bin dedicated to poop bags and it will be a long time before I need to restock. 

4) Bring Plenty of Fresh Water

Sure, there’s plenty of water at the beach. But don’t let your dog 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. 

When heading out to the beach, or just a long walk around my community, I like to bring this water bottle along. On the surface, it looks like a regular water bottle, but it features a food-grade silicone flap that you simply flip up and voila — you have yourself a water bowl for your pooch! This particular product on Amazon also comes with a collapsable bowl (it can hold up to 12 oz of water or 1.5 cups of dog food) and waste bag dispenser. 

5) Provide Shade

Running around in the blazing sun can leave your 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 that should not be licked or ingested. They are toxic to your dog. 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: 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. My personal favorites are the waxes from The Natural Dog Company. As their brand name implies, their products are used from natural, organic, and vegan ingredients. They don’t contain any harmful toxins! For your beach trips, check out their travel kit, filled with 5 helpful waxes/balms. It includes:

  • Snout Soother – helps treat and prevent painful, dry, crusty, chapped, cracked, and bleeding dog noses.
  • PawTection – specially formulated to create a nourishing barrier to protect sensitive paw pads against the elements (heat, cold, salt, snow, gravel, sand)
  • Paw Soother – natural paw balm specially formulated to heal rough, chapped, dry dog paw pads.
  • Skin Soother – natural antibiotic topical treatment for cuts, rashes, abrasions, burns, surgical wounds, and dry/itchy/irritated skin.
  • Wrinkle Balm – formulated to treat and prevent skin fold disease, infection, and discomfort. It is fortified with anti-fungal properties to eradicate yeast, bacteria, and crusty buildup.

8) Consider Using a Life-Vest

If you let your dog take a little dive in the ocean waves then consider strapping on a life vest for extra safety measures. They make life vests for dogs and this small investment could be a huge lifesaver! The Outward Hound’s life vest has wonderful ratings. Available in five sizes, ranging from XS-XL, more than 4K people have already shared positive reviews on Amazon. It’s even earned an “Amazon’s Choice” badge!

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. Here’s the problem: Moisture is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. While you certainly don’t need to stop your water-loving pooch from taking a dip in the water on a hot summer day, it’s important to dry his ears afterward. Use either a cotton wipe or piece of gauze to gently dry the ear flap and around the opening of your dog’s ear canal after exposure to water.

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 20 essentials. 

11) Wipe The Sand Out Of Your Pup’s Face

When your dog is around sand, does he love to dig? My dogs go crazy digging in the sand – they love it! 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.

Dogs love to dig -- it's an instinct-driven habit and completely normal. But that doesn't make it any less frustrating. Find out 6 common reasons dogs dig!

12) Don’t Stress Over Sand In The Car

Getting sand all over your car seats and floors is going to happen. It just is. But, if you want to limit the amount of sand flying around then use a car hammock!  

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!