Beach adventures with your pooch – What you can and can't do

The beach is such fun for dogs, a place they love to run wild and free, packed with exciting things like sand and rocks, pools and waves, full of thrilling smells and new things to discover. But there are a few key things you should know before you let your pooch loose on your nearest beach. Here they are. 

Is there such a thing as dog-friendly beaches?

Some beaches have very strict restrictions about what dogs can and can't do. On some beaches dogs are banned throughout the spring and summer, from May to September, and on others they're banned all year round.

The reason for dog bans on beaches is usually very simple – it's a dog poop thing, which is fair enough when so many dog owners either don't poop and scoop at all or poop, scoop then ditch the poo-filled bag on the beach instead of taking it home (!). With a beach full of children in summer, the last thing parents need to see is dangerous doggie poo everywhere.  

Luckily there are plenty of official dog-friendly beaches in Britain, listed here in alphabetical order on the Nearest Beach website, complete with a map. In fact there are 351 beaches that allow dogs and a further 450 beaches with various dog restrictions. The website even includes a list of beaches where dogs aren'tallowed, to make things completely clear. 

The National Trust - Beach Walks with your pooch 

Many National Trust beaches welcome dogs at every time of year, although at some times of year – for example when birds are nesting – there are sometimes restrictions. Click this link to the National Trust beach guide, where you'll find the nitty-gritty details about beach dog walking opportunities and restrictions.

The Dog Friendly Britain website

The Dog Friendly Britainwebsite is full of essential information about off lead walkies out on beaches throughout the nation, revealed on a convenient county-by-county basis.

Top 10 dog-friendly beaches for fun holidays with your pooch

Good Housekeeping has created a list of the top 10 dog friendly beaches in Britain,  to help you pick the best dog friendly Staycation.

Beach walks etiquette for dog owners

Most of the guidance for dog owners is just common sense. Here are the main points about dog walking on the beach:

 - Promenades are busy and exciting, so it's best to keep your pooch on a lead, especially if they're likely to get over-excited, dash about or run off

 - If your dog is overly-excitable it also makes sense to keep them on a lead on the beach itself

 - Poop, scoop and most importantly, put it in a poop bin or take it home – never just chuck it on the ground. If you don't do the decent thing, you could face a fine or even   prosecution. In fact there's a special Poop-Scoop by-law making it illegal not to clean up after your dog and it applies to all beaches and promenades, all year round

 - Look out for poop bins before you go walkies so you know where they are. You are allowed to use ordinary bins, too, if there isn't a special poop bi

 - Steer your dog away from dropped ice creams, unwanted chips and any other inappropriate discarded seaside snacks

 - Don't let your dog go to far out into the sea, especially if you're not certain they can swim wel

 - If the sea is rough, keep your dog away from the waves – it's tragic how many dogs drown every year in stormy seas, and how many dog owners drown trying to rescue them

 - Steer clear of cliff edges, which are sometimes eroded and highly dangerous. If in doubt, keep your dog on a lead when walking on the cliffs

 - Keep an eye on the tide so you and your dog don't get stranded. Ideally, take a local tide table pamphlet with you so you know when you need to retreat – seafront shops and hotels usually sell or give away local tide tables

 - Don't let your dog eat rubbish that's been washed up by the sea. All sorts of awful toxic things get thrown away into the world's oceans, and it's better safe than sorry

 - If there are jellyfish on the beach or in the water, keep your dog safely out of their way

 - If your dog loves chasing birds, keep him or her on a lead so they don't disturb the beach wildlife

Dog float coats – Life jackets for dogs

If you have any doubts whatsoever about your pet's swimming abilities or their safety in the water, you can buy special dog float coats, designed to act as a dog life jacket. They act just like life jackets for humans.

The dangers of palm oil

Look out for solidified palm oil on the beach, which looks like white candle wax. It might smell horrible but dogs still like to eat it, and it makes them very ill. If you see anything that looks like palm oil on your local beach, report it to the council asap. As the Brighton Council websitesays;

"The Veterinary Poisons Information Service has reported: “We have received a number of emergency enquiries about dogs that have eaten it (palm oil). The main problems are vomiting and diarrhoea and these can lead to dehydration, particularly in young or small dogs. We do not think it is the age of the oil that is causing this, as fresh oil would cause the same problems.

There is also a potential risk of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) which can result in vague, non-specific signs including vomiting and diarrhoea. This is a risk in dogs that eat a large amount of any fatty or oily food substance. There have been reports of blockages of the gut in dogs that have eaten palm oil washed up in Cornwall.

We would suggest anyone with a dog that has eaten palm oil to contact their vet for advice, particularly if the dog is already unwell. There is no specific treatment, but the dog may need medication to control vomiting and intravenous fluid to treat or prevent dehydration. The main thing owners can do is prevent exposure."

Dogs in beach cafés and restaurants

Some cafés, pubs and beach restaurants are dog-friendly, others are not even through they might leave bowls of fresh water out for thirsty passing pets. Unless there's a notice saying dogs are welcome, it makes sense to ask first. 

What about your own tips for doggie beach fun?

Have you any top tips for safe, fun, enjoyable doggie fun on the beach? Why not share them via our Facebook page here

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