8 Tips for a Dog-Friendly Beach Vacation

Posted by Billy Francis

A beach vacation is a summer dream come true for two- and four-legged friends around the world. It's hard not to yearn for the swell of the surf, the acres of sand just waiting to be molded into castles, and the warm sun on our skin. But heading to the beach isn't all fun and games. You need to plan ahead and protect yourself and your family from the hazards of being out in the heat. And that goes double for Fido, who (let's be fair) doesn't always know how to keep safe when he's outside. These eight practical tips will help you and your pup enjoy a safe dog-friendly beach outing this summer.

1. Pack the Sun Safety Essentials

"What do you mean, pack light?" Photo by @mezzy_frankie

Just like a bad sunburn can ruin a human’s time at the beach, dogs are also susceptible to feeling the burn. Pack a can of Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray to spritz on your dog before heading outside. Once applied, work it into the skin with your hands or a brush. You can also wipe your pooch down with Petkin Doggy Sunwipes, which will help keep him shielded from the sun. Make sure to cover his nose, as this is the most exposed area. Another way for your furry sunbather to avoid too much time in direct sunlight (you can’t see their tan anyway) is by sheltering under some shade. This Pet Cot Canopy keeps dogs safe from harsh rays and can be attached to a cot to make afternoon naps more comfortable.

Water is another beach essential. Keeping your parched pup hydrated at the beach helps prevent heatstrokes and exhaustion. Kong has designed these durable water bottles with removable lids that double as a bowl. They're perfect for packing that vital H2O without having to worry about a separate place to pour it.

2. Do Your Beach Research

"Yep, this beach likes me!" Photo by @muttjackson

Just because you think your dog belongs on the beach doesn't mean that other visitors (or the local government, for that matter) agree with you. Sadly, most beaches do not allow pets, and many that do have their rules. How many times have you arrived with Fido raring to get out on the water, only to be blindsided by a list of unexpected pet restrictions? Most beach locations also have a peak season, which means there will probably be added stipulations between May and September. In some cases, dogs can't set paw on the sand at all during the summer months. Visit BringFido for a rundown of the rules at your beach destination, and check out some of our favorite dog-friendly beaches on the East Coast and West Coast.

3. Book (Way) in Advance

Beachfront hotels fill up fast. Photo by BringFido

Not surprisingly, you're not the only one thinking about going to the beach with your dog this summer. Aspiring beach bums should reserve a pet-friendly hotel or vacation rental well in advance of any planned trip to guarantee a great room, hopefully with an ocean view. Book a pet-friendly hotel near your favorite beach using BringFido's website or mobile app (iPhone or Android). Or call 877-411-3436 to speak to a pet travel expert who can help you find a great pet-friendly property.

4. Be Safe on Sand and Water

Sticks and stones can hurt Fido.

Bring along a canine first aid kit in case your pooch steps on a sharp rock, gets into a scrap with other dogs (it happens), or swallows too much saltwater. One simple remedy for an upset stomach after swallowing saltwater is low-sodium chicken broth. This calms the upset tummy and helps them recover faster. Why not make pupsicles with frozen chicken broth and keep them in your cooler?

Jellyfish stings can be painful for humans and dogs alike. If your dog is stung, be sure to remove any stingers with a towel (never use your bare hands). Use seawater rather than fresh water to clean the wound, or ammonia diluted with water. You'll also want to contact your vet to let them know what happened. If your pup's symptoms worsen (including difficulty breathing, muscle spasms, swelling and vomiting), take your pet directly to a local vet or emergency care facility.

Finally, don’t assume that just because he can doggy paddle, Fido is a strong enough swimmer to handle the ocean. Consider protecting your dog from strong tides and rough surf with a dog life vest Outward Hound (and Frisco offer reliable options). Never leave your dog unattended around water, and let him splash in the shallows before he ventures too far out.

5. Protect the Paws

"You look funny in your flip flops, too." Photo by Facebook.com/CeeSquaredCo

When the heat rises to scorching levels, keep Fido off the sand, asphalt and concrete. Not only will he burn his paws, but contact with hot surfaces may also lead to overheating. Look for the following warning signs when you’re out walking together on the beach:

  • Limping or avoiding walking.
  • Licking or chewing his feet.
  • Paw pads are darker than usual.
  • Paw pads are visibly damaged, or show blisters or redness.

Opt for walks on wet sand, buy your dog some protective booties (like these fromBark Brite) to beat the heat, or venture out at cooler times of the day. Dog paws can suffer when the sun is highest in the sky, usually between the hours of 2 and 4 p.m.

6. Practice Proper Beach Etiquette

Maybe next time use waste bags? Photo by BringFido

Surprisingly, there are people out there who don’t love dogs as much as we do (shocking, right?). One way we can make sure they also have fun on the beach is to keep an eye on Fido, leash him when required and keep him away from random beach dwellers. Just as you need to clean up after yourself on the beach, Fido's mess cannot be left behind. This is the biggest complaint among non-dog owners about pets on the beach, and the reason why so many aren’t pet-friendly. Although many dog-friendly beaches have pet waste stations on site, take your own bags just in case.

7. Have Fun in the Sun

Floating toys help keep Fido busy at the beach. Photo by @kurgo

Some doggos aren’t content with catching rays all day. Luckily for them, the beach can be transformed into a playground pretty easily, as long as you bring plenty of toys. First off, invest in some Kurgo Skipping Stones. Designed to simulate actual skipping stones, they’ll keep your pup entertained for hours as you skip them across the water for her to retrieve. Dogs can also practice their catching technique with a game of frisbee. Soft frisbees don't travel as far and are nice and squishy for dogs to chomp down on.

8. Rinse Your Dog Off Before You Leave

"Ok, maybe I'm ready for a bath." Photo by BringFido

Sometimes dogs look cleaner when they leave the beach than when they arrive, but as your car seats will tell you, this is only an illusion. Fur has a unique way of gathering sand, bits of seaweed and other unwanted souvenirs. Plus, saltwater is an irritant to Fido's skin and paws. Rinse off all that beach grime and grit before you leave. Some beaches offer dog wash stations, like the self-service Mutt Jackson Dog Wash Stations at Chicago’s Montrose Dog Beach, but in most cases you'll want to bring your doggy shampoo. You can also get a portable dog paw cleaner. Just add a drop of water, insert Fido’s grubby paws, twist and let the bristles do the hard work. For the rest of the dog, Tuff Pepper’s Shammy Towel is super absorbent and will pick up some of the stray sand off the fur. You can use the Hertzko Self Cleaning Brushto pick up any dry sand that remains.

Are you heading to the beach with your dog this summer? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!