Do you have a water-loving dog? If so, why not up their excitement of the dog park by taking them to a dog beach? A dog beach doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be near a coastline. Some lakes include areas for humans and dogs to frolic around in the water. We will be breaking down some items to bring and things to be mindful of when adventuring to a dog-friendly beach location.
PARDON OUR PAWS
We always have to emphasize knowing your surroundings and rules prior to arrival. Majority of dog beaches have leash laws, meaning they require your pet to be on a leash at all times. However, there are also no-leash or off-leash areas. If your dog is an avid swimmer but they must be on a leash, think about acquiring an extra long leash so they can have some freedom to do their best doggy paddle. We took Fletcher to the beach with our usual 4-foot leash and wished we had brought a longer option. Some areas that are dog friendly allow your dog off-leash if you and the dog are both swimming, so jump on in!
Be careful: Some laws may require the leash to be fixed-length and not retractable. This is to protect those around you and keep dogs from invading others’ space. Others may have specific times that pups are allowed off-leash so it would be preferable to be there at those times.
Some beaches allow pets without being a “dog beach,” meaning there are specific times animals are allowed at a busy beach. In our area, your pet must be registered with a beach permit that lasts around two years. The credentials must be present with you along with a dog tag for collars. Be considerate of others (humans and dogs) so we can keep access to these areas and everyone can enjoy. Know before you go!
BEACH BAG ESSENTIALS
Sunscreen: Skin protection is important for your dog, especially for light skin or white fur. Spray and wipe options are available, but be sure the one you get is safe for animal use. A step further some people take are eye protection to help with glare and bright environments.
Towels: Good luck going home with a wet dog and no towels. We always bring at least two for Fletcher, one of them being super absorbent in nature.
Dog boots: If your locale has pebbles/rocks instead of soft sand, be mindful of your dogs paws. The heat itself can break down their paws very quickly and the surface could tear up their pads. You could bring these if you are walking on concrete to and from the swimming area.
Portable food and water bowls: We will get more into the water situation, but your dog will be having so much fun and expending a lot of energy. If they are on a feeding schedule try some healthy snacks or, dare I say, treats for the in-between time at the beach.
Lifejacket: Fletcher almost won’t go swimming without his lifejacket now. It makes him easier to hold onto if needed and we feel more at ease, as dog parents, with him being out in open or deep water for longer. Find a lifejacket that fits properly and avoids irritating your dogs skin or riding up high on the front of their neck.
Toiletries: Doggy bags, the nice way of saying it, MUST be in your beach bag. In any case that you venture out with your dog, be sure to clean up after them. While they may not understand why you’re picking up after them, you as a human know how terrible it is to step in dog poop.
BEACH WATCH & SAFETY
Not to ruin the vibe but…. while these adventures are likely some of the best times your dog may have, it’s best to keep a watch out for some specific things that are hazardous to your dog. It is important to prepare for warm weather fun conditions.
Heat exhaustion: We all know it and swear we can recognize it. But dog’s do not sweat and use panting as one of the means of cooling themselves off. How can you tell when the panting is leading to something more serious? As the owner, you understand your dogs energy level and “mannerisms” best. If your dog is excessively panting in addition to having any of the other signs listed below, immediately take action.
Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion in dogs: Signs of discomfort or fatigue such as unwillingness or inability to move around, excessive drooling, reddened gums (or pale depending on severity), vomiting, and diarrhea.
The best attempts to cool down your dog in this situation is to place them in a shady area or in cool water. You do not need to force your dog to chug water (their priority may be breathing not drinking), but more so focus on their panting beginning to calm down. Take your pup to the vet to get them assessed once they have cooled off. Some vets recommend having a digital thermometer to monitor your dogs temperature, with a temperature of or greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit signaling action. If you know you are placing your dog in a situation where heat exhaustion is possible, consider getting a cooling vest from many of the many retailers available.
The other serious topics to touch on is water intoxication and dry drowning. Water intoxication is a means of your dog ingesting too much water for their body to handle. Due to the body’s mechanism for balancing water and sodium, if the scale is tipped too far in either direction neurological issues can arise. Some of the symptoms of water intoxication include: loss of coordination, swelling/bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, salivation, breathing difficulty.
Dry drowning is the act of when water is swallowed but is aspirated into the lungs (or other parts of the airway) instead of down into the stomach to be absorbed. Signs of dry drowning include: consistent coughing or hacking, difficulty breathing or wheezing, lethargy or symptoms of low oxygen. Both dry drowning and water intoxication are serious and urgent matters, meaning your dog should be seen by a vet immediately.
It is best to be aware of your dog and their environment. Fletcher still hasn’t mastered getting sticks out of water without a big gulps water and coughing as he swims back to us. We monitor how much water play and swimming he does with/without a lifejacket and carve out plenty of rest time.
The information we used regarding harmful water issues for dogs was based on speaking with our neighborhood veterinarian and fellow dog friends. Further information is available online if you would like to become more educated on these topics.
Do you have any suggestions or stories about taking your dog to the beach? We are always on the lookout for good locations that allow dogs. Please feel free to comment below!
Hi! I’m Marleigh. I am a nurse, military spouse and proud human to @fletcher_the_pup. We are lovers of dogs and adventures, especially in combination. Fletcher is a shepherd mix who is a puppy at heart and loves being around others. His big ears only add to his even bigger personality. Fletch is definitely the most photogenic person in the family and we hope our experiences can bring some joy to other peoples lives.