Beaches: the dog owner’s guide

A 2019 study of dog owners in the UK by holiday park operator Away Resorts revealed that 85% of owners would rather take a staycation in the UK with their pets than leave them behind for a holiday abroad. Following the easing of restrictions across the UK, the number of people looking to vacation closer to home may well rise.

But, would you know what to do if your dog got injured or became ill while you were venturing out into the sun together to catch some of those glorious summer rays?

We’ve teamed up with Dog First Aid Training to bring you some top tips to help ensure your pooch stays safe and healthy on your beach staycation!

Learn how to ensure your dog stays safe at the beach

Potential dangers at the beach

While beaches are a great place for a day out to give you and your dog a chance to cool off and spend quality playtime with the family, the very things that make the beach so pleasant for us humans could prove harmful to your pooch.

The sea

There are various potential dangers lurking in the water your dog is keen to paddle in.

  • Drinking seawater – As they try to hydrate themselves, your dog might be inclined to drink the seawater. This can have the opposite effect and cause your dog to fall ill from the salt, bacteria and parasites in the water. Always provide clean, fresh water for your dog to drink while on the beach and avoid letting them drink from any rock pools or puddles they might encounter on their sandy adventures.
  • Dried seawater – It’s also important not to let the saltwater dry on their fur since it can irritate their skin. If this isn’t possible at the beach, give them a rinse with fresh water when you get home and make sure that you clean their ears as seawater can sometimes cause infections if left untreated.
  • Swimming in the sea – If this is your dog’s first time visiting the seaside, don’t assume your dog can swim. While some breeds are naturally strong swimmers, all dogs must learn how to stay afloat just like we do. If your dog is not used to swimming, the sea is not the place to start, but you could still go for a paddle with your pooch by keeping them on their lead and not venturing too far out.
  • Secondary drowning – This happens when a dog has inhaled the water into the lungs while swimming. Secondary drowning can occur between one and 48 hours after a dog has been in the water. With secondary drowning, you need to be looking out for:
    • Coughing
    • Vomiting
    • Lethargy

If a dog did come out of the water and vomited or was coughing profusely, you should get on the phone with the vets as quickly as possible.

The sand

It’s always nice to feel the sand between our toes, but there are a few things to bear in mind before letting your dog onto the beach.

  • Hidden dangers – Dogs can cut the pads of their feet on BBQs which are often buried in the sand and the various bits of debris that can be washed up on the shore.
  • Sand impaction – When dogs eat sand or accidentally consume some by playing fetch on the beach, it lodges in their intestines and can be a potentially serious condition.
  • Overexertion – Running on sand takes a lot more effort than running on grass, especially under the summer sun. This may lead to heatstroke if your dog doesn’t take rests, seek some shade or keep hydrated.
  • Burning their pads – Always check to see if the sand is too hot for you to walk on barefoot. If this is the case, then it’s too hot for your dog’s feet and could cause them to burn their pads. Save your beach trip for a cooler day, leave your dog at home or visit in the early morning or late evening to avoid the heat. In the evenings be careful of BBQs which may have been used during the day and covered with sand – the charcoal embers can remain white-hot for hours and it only takes a misplaced paw to result in serious burns.

The sun

Our dogs need to stay safe in the sun just like us, so here are some things to consider before heading out to the beach.

  • Provide some shade – Your dog will need to be able to get away from the sun to cool down and take a break. This can be done by bringing your own parasol or setting up your spot in a shaded area. Keep your eyes out for any signs that might indicate your dog is suffering from heatstroke:
    • Excessive panting
    • Collapse
    • Dribbling
  • Sun cream – You’re not the only one who needs protection from the sun’s rays; your dog can also suffer from sunburn, so be sure to pack some pup-friendly sun cream before you head out. This will need to be reapplied throughout the day, too. Dogs with short hair, white hair or pink ears need to be particularly careful.
  • Avoid the hottest times – Try to keep your dog out of the sun from 10am to 4pm as this is the hottest time of the day. Taking them to the beach during these times can cause burns from walking on the sand or other hot surfaces, or heatstroke.
  • Water – You inevitably get through more water than you anticipated with all the drinking, cleaning and cooling down that goes on in the day, and much of the water available from the taps at beaches is not drinking water. Be sure to take plenty of water for both you and your dog.

Tips on prepping for your beach day

Things to pack for your dog:

  • Fresh water
  • Portable bowl
  • Poo bags
  • Parasol to provide shade
  • Dog-friendly sun cream
  • A towel
  • Telephone number of the nearest vet or download the Joii app
  • Beach first aid kit
    • Bandages for cuts
    • Dressings to apply pressure on wounds
    • Surgical tape to secure the bandage
    • Extra clean water for burns

This information was provided by Dog First Aid Training. Dog First Aid Training provide CPD accredited, vet-approved emergency canine care training to dog owners and people who work with dogs. To find a class near you please go to ; or call 0800 999 6632.

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