Taking your dog to the beach.

With this gorgeous Mediterranean weather we’re currently experiencing in the UK, what better way to enjoy it, than to head for the beach.  Sun bathing, games, swimming, surfing, and don’t forget the inevitable sand in the sandwiches; a day at the beach is a great way to enjoy the sun and an outing that your dog will always enjoy too!

Holidays4Dogs explores a few things to remember when enjoying fun at the beach with your four legged friend

First things first, check whether the beach you intend to visit allows dogs. During the height of the season, (usually from May to September/October) a few UK beaches operate a dog ban.  You can check in advance with the local council or online with sites such as this one: https://www.thebeachguide.co.uk/dog-friendly

On a recent holiday to the Gower we found the majority of the beaches towards the north allowed dogs on the sands all year round; including Oxwich Bay and Whitsand Bay.  Whitsand bay is especially good for walkers and their canine companions since it is over a mile through forest and sand dunes, from the car park in the village and therefore usually deserted.  It is a beautiful stretch of sand where owners and dogs alike will be awestruck by its remote beauty.

With the unprecedented hot weather we have been experiencing of late, it is important to pack a few essentials for your family, including the dog.  If you intend to spend several hours on the beach, take plenty of water to drink and some sort of shade, such as an umbrella, where your dog can shelter.  Some light coated dogs such as West highland white terriers, Dalmatians etc can suffer from sunburn on the their noses, so a little sun cream wouldn’t come amiss if it is very hot and sunny.  A towel that can be soaked in sea water is useful to help keep your dog cool while he is resting too.  Poop bags too are an essential iteml!

Once you reach the beach, keep your dog under control.  There are many reasons why dog bans operate on so many beaches in the UK and this is often due to issues of irresponsible ownership in the past including allowing dogs to foul the beach.  On warm days and popular dog friendly beaches, there are likely to be a lot of dogs around as well as families and children. Always keep your dog on the lead around crowds of people and always pick up any deposits your dog makes.

While in the Gower we watched a man chasing up the beach after his off lead dog had made a bee line for someone’s picnic and literally pushed himself onto the families blanket and pushed his head in their cool box to sounds of shrieks from the children.  While this seemed comical to watch from afar, we doubt the family found it very funny at the time.  Later on, someone allowed their dog to relieve himself against a sandcastle made by nearby children, which again is unpleasant for everyone.

Always check tide times if you fancy a long stroll along the beach as there are many coastal areas in the UK where you could be stranded if you don’t check the high tide times.

If your dog likes swimming he can enjoy a dip too, but remember never to force your dog to swim.  Some dogs need time to get used to the sound and movement of the waves, so let them take their time and never physically push or pull your dog into the water.

There are quite often hidden dangers at the beach such as sharp rocks, shell beds, fishing hooks and jelly fish that may cause injury to your dog as well as your family, so be aware if your dog is off-lead and check for any cuts or grazes once you leave.

Sand can take more energy to walk and run on, so make sure your dog doesn’t get too tired or over-heat.  Watch out for excessive panting, malaise or diarrhoea as these could be signs your dog is overheating.  If this is the case, get him immediately into the shade and use a wet towel to cover and cool him, while allowing him to sip some water.  If in doubt take your dog to the nearest local vet.

Once you’ve left the beach rinse your dog’s paws in fresh water as sometimes salt water and sand can cause irritation and soreness.  Check his ears and eyes for any deposits of sand.  A good bath or shower when he gets home will likewise get rid of any gritty deposits and salt that might otherwise cause your dog to scratch.

There’s no doubt that there is nothing nicer than spending an afternoon on the beach with the family pet and it’s one of the good things about dog owning.  With the beach breeze in their ears and sand between their toes, dogs really seem to enjoy beach time adventures as much as we do!