All the Do’s and Don’ts for Beach Days With Dogs

If tails wag at the mention of the word “beach,” you know your buddy is definitely on board. 


But in order to make it a day trip to remember (and not to regret!) both you and your canine need to prepare before you head for the coast.


First and foremost, make sure your destination allows dogs — check their website or call — because nobody wants to leave anywhere with a ticket as a souvenir.


We asked celebrity dog trainer Nicole Ellis, a specialist on’s Dog People Panel, to give us her best suggestions for beaching it with your best friend. 


Read on for her do’s and don’ts!


DO …


Wear a doggy lifejacket.  If your buddy is braving the waves, riding in a boat or on a paddleboard, the safety of a lifejacket is definitely recommended. “Water loving dog or not, any dog can go into a panic in the water from unexpected leap or other reasons,” Ellis says. “Dog life jackets help keep our pets safe in the water. Just like human children wear them to stay safe, so should our pets.”


Offer lots of water. If you’re sizzling on a sandy beach, just imagine how your dog feels. Bring a travel water bowl and fresh, cold water to offer him or her throughout the day — and don’t allow your pet to drink saltwater, as saltwater poisoning can be fatal (to read more about that, click here).From swimming, and running or simply being outside in the heat it’s easy for our dogs to get overheated,” Ellis warns. “Make sure your pet has a bowl with water accessible and that the water is not hot.”


Watch for signs of heatstroke. An exciting day by the sea — filled with sunshine, waves and running — is definitely a workout for your dog, so take breaks and offer shade. “A day in the sun can be exhausting for us and our pets, heatstroke isn’t uncommon for pets after a day at the beach,” she says. “So make sure you are aware of signs to look out for (especially with shorter nosed pups). Excessive panting and drooling, vomiting, and walking unsteady. To cool your pet down the important areas to wet with cold water are paws, neck, belly and inner thighs.” Heatstroke is an emergency situation, to read more about it, click here.


Protect their paws. You know the feeling of stepping foot on hot sand — ouch! The very same thing can happen to your dog’s paws if you’re not careful. “That burning sand can hurt them too! Carry your pet out to the cooler sand or apply a product such as Mushers Secret or Muttluks Pawmagik that helps protect and moisturize their pads,” she suggests. 


Avoid rough water. If the conditions are reminiscent of scenes from The Perfect Storm, you’ve chosen the wrong beach day. Make sure the waves or water aren’t rough and there is zero potential for either one of you to get hurt during your outdoor adventure. “Every summer there are stories of dogs swept out with the tide and owners trying to get out to them, watch the ocean and see how it moves,” she says. “ And make sure there are no jelly fish or sting rays in the water that could ruin you and your pup’s day.” A check of the weather before you depart is definitely a good idea.




Forget sunscreen for vulnerable pets. Certain animals are more susceptible to sun damage, so be sure to protect their skin. “Like us, dogs can get sunburned, mostly the ones with short-coated dogs, light-colored dogs, dogs with close summer haircuts, ones with pink noses and hairless breeds,” she says. “Use pet-specific sunscreen as human sunscreen may have zinc in it which can be toxic if ingested. For hairless dogs consider a light T-shirt that will protect their skin.”


Let your pet out of your sight. Most likely you’ll be sharing the beach with other people, and possibly other pets, so follow the rules, okay? “That includes not letting them explore out of the pet zoned areas,” Ellis says. “Not everyone loves dogs as much as we do and we all want to be allowed back to the beach. Make sure your pet stays on the pet-friendly side of the beach and follows all leash laws.”


Force your pet into the water. Water play isn’t for everyone, so closely watch their behavior and don’t force it if your pet is frightened or upset. “Some pets naturally love the water and some need some coaxing, keep it positive and keep it fun!” she says. “If your pet is a little timid at first it may help to start in an area with calm water with no waves, try entering the water first and calling your pet to you.”


Forget to rinse your pet off afterwards. A shower after a long beach day is always necessary! Be sure to give your dog a rinse afterward as well. “The saltwater can be irritating to their paws, ears and skin,” Ellis says. “A quick rinse off will help avoid infections and itchy irritated skin.”


Forget the toys! After this epic beach day, you’ll officially be known as The Best Owner Ever. “We love bringing some tennis balls and dog water toys from Jax & Bones when we hit the waves together. It’s a great place to have fun, practice some training, and relax side by side,” she says.


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Amy Jamieson

A former senior editor for, Amy launched People Pets for People magazine in 2008. Now she writes about pets, lifestyle and more from her bucolic saltbox in Collinsville, Connecticut, usually with a cat in her lap and a dog at her feet.

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