Dogs Trust

Keeping your dog safe at the beach

Tips for taking your dog to the beach

Dog visiting the beach

Summer is fast approaching, and the promise of good weather means many of us will be heading to the coast to enjoy being by the sea. This is the perfect opportunity to visit a beach with your dog.

There are huge benefits, both mentally and physically, to be had from spending time outdoors. Across Ireland there are dog-friendly beaches where you can enjoy the sea and sand with your canine companion.

We have some simple advice to help make your time at the beach a success. 

  • Do some research
    Not all beaches are dog-friendly, some restrict the times that dogs can be at the beach, some require dogs to be kept on a lead and some don’t permit dogs at all. So, before you leave your home, check if there are any restrictions in place by visiting the beach’s local council website.Be prepared – Before you go to the beach, you’ll want to pack a bag with your essentials, and the same is true for your dog. Get a bag ready with everything your dog might need during your trip. Some things to pack are toys, poo bags, towels, dog snacks, drinking water, a bowl, and a veterinary approved sunscreen.
  • Keep them cool
    Dogs cannot cool themselves down in the same way as humans do. You should have fresh water available for drinking while your dog is at the beach. It’s tempting for dogs to drink salty seawater, but this can make your dog sick. When you’re out in the sun it’s important to provide a shaded spot for your dog to take a break. You can do this with a large umbrella or windbreaker. If your dog is overweight keep an extra close eye on them in warm weather because they may be more prone to overheating.

  • Protect your dog
    When your dog is out in the sun apply pet sunscreen to your dog’s easily burned areas. Your vet will be able to advise on the use of sunscreens for your dog.
  • Going for a swim
    You should never force your dog to enter the water. If you’d like to offer your dog the opportunity to paddle and they’re a little unsure, choose a sloping flat ‘beach’ so they can walk in without having to take any ‘leap of faith’ and ideally where the bottom can be seen. Wait next to the water’s edge calmly to see if they take a step towards it or to investigate it, then praise. Let them go at their own pace and if they don’t want to paddle that’s fine. If you let them decide for themselves, they’ll feel safer. They need to trust you to be there to help them out, should they need it.

    Bailey Freckles at the beach  

  • Look out for danger
    Take extra care if you go walking near cliffs. Look out for signs warning you about crumbling cliff edges, stick to clearly marked paths and pay attention to any warning signs. If your dog is likely to go exploring or chase other animals then keep them on a lead.
  • Beware of seals
    If you are in an area where there are seals you should always keep your dog on a lead. As well as the dog being a potential danger to seals, the seals can give a nasty bite which will require a trip to your vet. This is especially important when there are seal pups around as the mothers are very protective of their young.
  • Avoid jellyfish
    If you see jellyfish or hear reports of them in the area check the shore and water before you allow your dog to go exploring. Jellyfish can give a nasty sting to people and dogs, and even when they have washed up dead keep your dog away from them as they can still sting.
  • Protect wildlife 
    Some beaches have areas where wildlife is protected. Look out for signs asking you to keep out of certain areas. There are birds that nest on the ground and are at risk from people and dogs while they're sitting on eggs. You should keep your dog on a lead during nesting season (between March and August) on these beaches to avoid disturbing the birds.
  • Give them a bath 
    When you get home give your dog a thorough rinse after a trip to the beach to remove any sand or salt that has built up in their fur because this can cause their skin to become irritated. Some dogs with longer hair or more sensitive skin may require a full bath.

Never EVER leave your dog alone in a car on a warm day. Just a few minutes in a hot car can be fatal to your dog, with temperatures inside rising from 22 to 33 degrees in just 10 minutes. Even if the car is parked in the shade and the windows are left down, it does very little to help with the temperature inside the vehicle.

Enjoy spending quality time with your dog at the beach and have lots of fun together!