seaside dog walk Gill Wild

Gill Wild

Most dogs love the beach, and for the most part it’s safe. But it’sa myth that all dogs swim well, so supervise and keep dogs on leads near unsafe areas (avoid walking near cliffs). Don’t let dogs run for at least 2 hours after a meal (or driving) to help prevent bloat (particularly important for large-chested dogs). 

Well-trained dogs are essential for the safety of all, so dogs return on recall if near children, other dogs (or sandwiches!)

Keep dogs away from seals (pups can drown if spooked into the water). And mothers give vicious bites – often they hide pups in sand dunes in breeding season, where dogs may be walking. 

always check the tide times

Check tide times before travel, as some beaches even disappear when the tide is in, and even a small wave can knock people/dogs off their feet, and sweep them out to sea. Follow safety notices in areas with quicksand. If concerned, call 999 or 112 and ask for Coastguard (RNLI will always help pets, as well as humans).

check for dog beach bans before travel

Many councils ban dogs during certain times (St Michael’s Mount ban dogs as there are no shady areas in hot weather). Most bans are due to people leaving poo near children (or dogs that are not trained). Some councils have partial bans (like walking dogs on leads or on promenades). Councils can help reduce beach bans by installing dog bin dispensers with free biodegradable bags (it’s human nature sometimes to forget). Dog bans do not apply to guide dogs (but may still have to be on leads). 

If driving dogs to the beach, plan regular stops (Driving with Dogs has details of walking areas near exits, if you get stuck in a traffic jam). Always carry a collapsible water bowl, and plenty of water en-route.

Make notes of dog-friendly places to stop for a drink and bite to eat. Download Dogs Trust email template to ask Wetherspoons and others to change policy (they don’t let dogs outdoors, so irresponsible guardians may leave dogs in cars). If assistance dogs are refused access to shops or taxis, report to Open Doors app.

keep dogs safe in warm weather

If pavements, sand or pebble are too hot for your hand/feet, they are too hot for paws. Dogs can get heatstroke in mild temperatures ((especially flat-faced pugs/bulldogs/boxers) as can large or elderly dogs, and those not used to warm weather. At the beach, keep dogs out of the sun (use parasols) and for breeds prone to sunburn, use pet-safe sunscreen (never human sunscreen as zinc/titanium oxide are toxic if licked). 

75% of heatstroke cases are when dogs are running/playing, so only give short walks in cool weather. If dogs are panting or have red gums, vomiting or seizure/collapse, move to a shady area and pour cool water over (not the head, this could drown dogs) until breathing normalises (give small sips of cool water). Use a fan or place ice wrapped in a towel on groin/armpits – don’t place wet towels on the body, this can raise temperature). Put air-conditioning on in car, when driving to vet. 

Never leave dogs in (even warm) cars, as the temperature heats up quickly inside (air-conditioning can fail), and can kill in minutes (same for glass conservatories). If you find a dog in a hot car, smash the window and move to a shady area, then use cool (not cold) water as above and immediately call the vet, RSPCA and police (take registration number). You may be charged with criminal damage, but most people who leave dogs have ‘forgotten’ and will not prosecute, they will likely feel terrible. 

keep dogs away from seaweed

Seaweed is tempting to dogs, as they like to play with the fronds. But it expands in the stomach as it dries, and can cause a medical emergency.

don’t let dogs drink seawater 

Seawater contains salt, bacteria and sometimes glass. When home, rinse off sand/seawater with lukewarm water and use unscented dog shampoo or dog soap (avoid getting water in ears, nose, mouth or eyes). Rinse and towel-dry.

Experts suggest to use warm water around 37 °C. Pop a mat or tub in the bath/sink, to avoid wobbles (walk-in showers, paddling pools or outdoors are easier for large secured dogs).  Never use human shampoos on pets.

keep dogs away from (even dead) jellyfish

Even dead jellyfish can sting, and lion’s mane jellyfish and Portuguese man o’war in particular are dangerous. If your dog is stung, rinse area with sea water, remove tentacles/barbs and seek immediate vet advice.

keep dogs away from adders

Keep dogs away from adderes (England’s venomous snake, so bites are medical emergencies). Dog-Friendly Cornwall has tips on when to avoid walking (‘safe hours’ were previously before 9am and after 7pm), but rising temperatures now means you may have to adapt to avoid basking snakes – see post for more info.

the most dog-friendly beach in the world?

The affluent northern California town of Carmel-by-the-Sea is often cited as the most dog-friendly on earth. Police patrol the beach to ensure dogs are not left in warm/hot cars, nearly all shops/cafes are dog-friendly (with water bowls and biscuits), a ‘fountain of woof’ spurts out fresh water for thirsty dogs, and there is even a grassy area for dogs to relieve themselves! Locals even photograph pooches, and raise money each year for a shelter, by selling a dog calendar.

However, rules are strict, hence why it is so dog-friendly. All dogs running loose must be ‘under voice control’ and aside from the beach and some trails, dogs must be on leads. All visiting dogs must also be registered, to know they are safe and for easy tracing, should they get lost. If an incident occurs (like a fight or bite) just like cars, the people are required to share details.

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