10 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe at the Beach

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Taking Your Dog to the Beach?

Going to the beach is a multi-sensorial experience for your dog. Romping around on the sand, chasing the waves, or simply soaking up sun rays on a cozy blanket will surely make him happy. However, as a loving, caring owner, you must be aware of some potential hidden dangers in order to protect your dog from harm. Following are some guidelines to protect your pooch at the beach so that both of you can have a good time.

10 Beach Tips Every Dog Owner Should Know

1. Prevent Heatstroke

As you may already know, dogs don't tolerate heat as well as humans do. Unlike us, dogs do not perspire much (other than a tiny bit from their paw pads), so they must rely on panting as their means of keeping cool. But panting is not efficient when there is high humidity, physical over-exhaustion, and high temperatures. Generally, if the temperature outside is hotter than the dog's internal temperature, panting will not help the dog cool off. This can lead to hyperthermia, and consequently, heatstroke.

Symptoms of heatstroke include excessive panting, difficulty breathing, noisy breathing, bright red gums, and tacky saliva. As the heatstroke progresses, the gums will become pale, walking may be difficult with a staggering gait, body temperature will be high, and the dog might develop bloody diarrhea and eventually succumb if he is not treated in time.

2. Avoid Overexertion

Dogs have a blast on the beach, and their favorite activities include running back and forth and/or going swimming. However, these activities may cause heatstroke if they do not take rests. Most dogs, when they are tired, will retreat to a shaded area to cool off. But, dogs that are hyperactive may not listen to their need to retreat because they have too much pent-up energy. If your dog is overdoing it, allow him to relax for a while in a shady area. Please remember that dogs may overheat even when in the water, especially when the water temperatures are over 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Provide Hydration

The best way to prevent heatstroke is to keep your dog in a shady area with lots of water. Bring along a bottle of frozen water and give your pooch frequent little sips, if possible. A quick tip to see whether your dog is hydrated is to lift his skin. A well-hydrated dog has skin that is elastic, and it will quickly spring back into place when lifted.

4. Prevent Sunburn

Dogs with white muzzles, white ears, and/or are entirely white or have very light-colored coats have a higher tendency to develop sunburn. Avoid using human suntan lotions because they contain chemicals that may be toxic if licked off. If you have a white dog, keep him in the shade or use a veterinarian-approved sun lotion.

5. Watch for Sand in the Eyes

Dogs love to roll around in the sand, so it is easy for sand granules to get into their eyes and cause pain, weeping, and redness. If this happens, flush the eye with some water (not salt water, of course). If problems continue, the eye should be seen by the veterinarian because there is a chance that the sand could have scraped the cornea's surface and caused a corneal ulcer.

6. Watch for Hot Sand

Sand can be really hot during the scorching afternoon hours. Your dog's sensitive paw pads could easily burn. If there is a stretch of asphalt from the car to the the beach, try to carry your dog, if feasible.

7. Don't Let Them Eat Sand

Some dogs like eating sand at the beach. This can cause an upset stomach because the sand is irritating to the stomach. When a lot of sand is ingested, it may cause serious intestinal impaction.

8. Don't Let Them Eat Shells/Starfish/Stones

Eating these things in large chunks or swallowing them whole can potentially lead to choking and intestinal blockages. They can also cause injury as they pass through the gastro-intestinal system. Keep an eye on your pup and also watch out for things like fish hooks, algae, dead sea gulls, or the like.

9. Don't Let Them Drink Salt Water

Drinking a lot of salt water may cause sickness for two reasons:

  1. Ocean water contains bacteria.
  2. High salt content may throw the dog's electrolytes off balance and cause nausea and vomiting.

In some cases, when too much water is consumed, the dog's sodium levels may rise. This causes severe dehydration and even death. Too much salt water may also lead to a case of beach diarrhea.

10. Prevent Drowning

Dogs may be great swimmers, but domestication has weakened some of those skills. Each year, there are reports of dogs drowning, so it is best to keep dogs near the shore and don't allow them to go too deep.


As you can see, dangers lurk even in the most unexpected places, but you can still enjoy the beach if you take precautions. Keep a close eye on your dog, keep him cool, give him lots of bottled water, and have fun!

Questions & Answers

Question: What can I give my dog that is pooping sand?

Answer: See your vet if your dog ate sand, and he is vomiting, has loss of appetite and diarrhea, as too much sand can cause a potential impaction. A bland diet may help ease the digestive tract as the sand is abrasive and can cause irritation. You can try feeding cooked white rice with boiled chicken, boiled white fish or scrambled eggs (made with water and not milk but see your vet if there are any worrisome signs.

© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 28, 2012:

Many owners of white dogs use it as they get easily sun burn on the ears and muzzle. Doggie sun tan lotion needs to be made specifically for dogs as human lotion is harmful to dogs, thanks for stopping by!

tipstoretireearly from New York on September 26, 2012:

Excellent information. I wasn't aware of doggy sun tan lotion, but it makes complete sense to use a lotion that can be easily digested.

Wanman on June 01, 2012:

Steve, it's such a shame that your life is so empty, perhaps you should take one last trip to the beach, then leave it alone for the rest of the nice people of planet earth to enjoy with their loved ones!

j on May 29, 2012:

steve - i hate your face. people that hate dogs are pieces of shit.

MariaDoyle on November 22, 2011:

Thanks for the tips! Steve-I'm sorry you have had bad experiences with dogs at the beach. I live walking distance to the beach so I have seen many different types of dog owners and beach goers and, from my experience, most dog owners are respectful of others and most beach goers don't seem to mind the dogs and often people of all ages come up to me to "meet" my dog. Although my beach does not allow dogs on the beach during the peak season until after 5:00 so other beaches may be different. I personally wouldn't bring my dog to the beach during the day in the summer months when it is really hot and crowded but my dog is a 100 lb. chocolate lab!

Steve on October 03, 2011:

It would be nice to have one place to go where I am not pestered by dogs. Why do dog owners feel that it is acceptable to let their dogs roam around where other people are trying to relax. I watch dog owners who call their dogs back from sniffing around where people are picnicking and actually think it's cute that their germ ridden animals are scavenging for food. I am sick of people who think it is perfectly fine to let them piss on the same piece of sand that some kiddy could be using too make sand castles. You have already filled our parks up with dog shit. Let us have our beaches back. Not everybody thinks dogs are cute. Some HATE them.

Brad Beach on September 09, 2011:

Nice post!

One thing we always ensure while visiting the beach with our dog is that her vaccinations are up to date to help boost her antimicrobial resistance and that she is wearing an up to date, topical insect repellant.

Rebecca on April 02, 2010:

Also, for the safety of your dog and others, please keep a leash handy.

Raman Kuppuswamy from Chennai, India on July 23, 2009:

Good information.

3. Life Jacket

Another way you can keep your dog safe is by getting them a life jacket. These are especially helpful if your dog doesn’t know how to swim or is a beginner. They can swim and have fun with the added protection that a life jacket brings.

Not only does a life jacket keep your dog safe, but a life jacket also makes your dog easy to spot. It also gives you something to grip if they need help getting out.

Dog life jackets are designed to allow your dog to move naturally through the water. Of course, that doesn’t mean your dog will enjoy wearing it immediately. Let them get used to it so they’re not stressed wearing one in the water.

10. Wash Up Afterward

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Untreated bodies of water can be full of harmful bacteria, parasites, chemicals, and toxic substances that can hurt your dog. It is important that you at least rinse off quickly after a beach visit if you can and bathe more thoroughly after you get home.

You should especially clean the ears, paws, and anywhere where there are folds in the skin, as these are the places parasites and bacteria like to hide the most.

This can reduce the chances of your dog getting sick from something that they pick up from their day of fun.

What other safety tips do you have for dog visits to the beach? How do you prepare your dog for fun in the sun? Let us know in the comments below!

In the Pool

Got a swimming hole in your backyard? Keep it Fido-friendly with these steps:

  • Put a fence around it to keep your dog out when it isn’t time to swim.
  • Keep a sturdy cover over it when you aren’t using it. It should be made of a material that lets rainwater drain through. Dogs can drown in puddles on top of pool covers.
  • Teach your dog how to get in and out. Make sure there are steps or a ramp they can use to climb out.
  • Check the water temperature before letting your dog take a dip. Only a few breeds can handle extra-cold water.


Summer Safety: Tips For Bringing Your Dog to The Beach

Expert advice for enjoying the sand, sun, and surf with your pup.

There's nothing better than sharing a beach day with your best bud. A game of Frisbee, a jog along the water, maybe a quick dip-welcome to doggie paradise.

It's important to remember, however, that a day at the beach is no walk in the park. From the beating sun to the strong tides, sharp shells to hot sand, beaches are harsh natural environments, especially for dogs.

"Many dogs love the beach, but it can be dangerous if you don't know what to look out for," says Dr. Carly Fox, a staff veterinarian at NYC's Animal Medical Center Emergency and Critical Care Service. "The risks are very real, and some can be deadly."

Here's what to consider before inviting your dog along this summer.

#1: Bring Water

While this should be a no-brainer, be sure to pack plenty of fresh water and a bowl for your dog. Do not expect that your dog will stay cool by drinking water from a lake or ocean, as this can be dangerous. Many portable dog bowl options exist, and are available at many pet stores or outdoor retailers. If your pup isn’t a fan of drinking when away from home, try to entice him or her by sprinkling in a small amount of Gatorade or Kool-Aid powdered drink mix (just be sure never to use a sugar-free formula).

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