Going to the Beach: How to Prepare Your Pup

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Are you planning to take your new pup to the beach for the first time? As the weather starts to heat up, you may be excited to take him — but you may not be sure what to expect. Chances are you've heard of dog-friendly beaches, but do you know what this means?

The prospect of going to a dog-friendly beach may spark some new questions: Where should you go? What should you bring? Check out this handy guide, which could help you plan for taking your dog to beach.

Plan Ahead

German Shepherd running through shallow waves at the beachDog-friendly beaches are not usually hard to find, but it can take some investigating. Many beaches that allow dogs have rules — from requiring them to stay on a leash and keep out of specific areas to rules for you about picking up after your dog. If you have a particular beach in mind, call the beach management office or look online to familiarize yourself with the rules.

If you'd like to let your dog run free, you might need to search for a beach that allows dogs to run off-leash. Keep in mind that this might require a longer trip than you were anticipating. Therefore, you might have to plan your itinerary accordingly — including breaks from driving so your pet can stretch and use the bathroom. If you'll be traveling away from home, it's also a good idea to look up contact information for emergency veterinary clinics near your final destination (just in case your beach buddy runs into trouble).

What to Bring

When you go to the beach, you usually take along more than just your swimsuit. Taking a dog to the beach is no different. Here are some supplies you'll want to bring to keep your pooch safe — and help make the day relaxing and fun:

  • Bottled water
  • A water dish
  • A beach umbrella or shade screen
  • An all-weather dog bed or a dog blanket
  • A playpen to keep small dogs safely corralled
  • Plenty of towels
  • Canine sunscreen
  • A canine life vest with a handle
  • Baggies to clean up after them
  • Food and treats
  • Floating and waterproof dog toys
  • Dog booties to protect his paws from the hot sand
  • Doggles (dog goggles) to shield their eyes from sun and salt
  • A doggy first aid kit
  • A waterproof GPS tracker that can attach to their collar

Beach Safety

Dog walking on the beach at sunset with owner in tow.Even if you're a new pet parent, you probably know by now that dogs are good at getting into scrapes. Follow these tips to minimize your dog's chances of illness or injury:

  • Before letting your pup explore, comb the beach for any litter they might try to eat or sharp objects, such as broken bottles, soda cans or seashells that could cause injury.
  • Don't let them drink sea water. If you notice signs that he's getting hot or thirsty, offer them plenty of fresh water to drink.
  • Protect your pup from getting overheated, which could lead to heat exhaustion or stroke. Keep an eye on them and have them lie on a bed or blanket in the shade and drink water if they start panting a lot or begins acting tired. If they begin to act lethargic or disoriented — or if their breathing doesn't return to normal — contact the emergency vet immediately. Certain flat-faced or extremely fluffy dogs, such as bulldogs and huskies, will need extra supervision to stay cool, says Unleashed.
  • Have your dog wear booties to protect their paws from getting burned on hot sand, and dark goggles madefor dogs as eye protection from sun damage.
  • Coat the nose, ears, and any other areas with thinning fur with sunscreen made for dogs. Dogs are as susceptible to sunburns and skin cancer as we are. 
  • Have your dog wear a life vest when going for a swim or engaging in dog water sports. Even dogs who are excellent swimmers can grow tired and run into trouble. A vest with a handle on the back will make it easier to pull them to shore if necessary.
  • Make sure your dog wears a collar with his ID, including your contact info, at all times in case you become separated. Consider attaching a waterproof GPS tracker. This is especially important for dogs that get curious of other creatures like seagulls or other dogs at the beach. If your dog is still a puppy and going through training, you will need to keep them tethered to you to prevent them from getting away. It might also be a good idea to wait until they're is old enough and trained to truly enjoy a day at the dog beach.

Take a minute to wash the salt water off your dog's coat once you're tuckered out and ready to go home. This will keep them from itching or licking too much salt off themselves. Most public beaches have a hose or outdoor shower station but be courteous of the humans who may be using it.

With all of this in mind, it might seem like preparing to take your dog to the beach is, well... no day at the beach. But as a good pet parent, you want to do all you can to make your pup's first time at the beach happy and memorable. And once you're prepared, you'll also be ready for future trips, which means those spontaneous beach days with your pooch can become a summer tradition.

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.

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