Black and white dog Vader playing with an orange ball on the beach

Tips for keeping your dog safe at the beach

The beach is fun for all the family, including your dog, but there are some things to think about while you're out adventuring.


Some beaches do not allow dogs at certain times of the year, so before you head out, remember to check local advice.

Keep your dog cool

When temperatures rise, it can get hot at the beach. Dogs are prone to heatstroke, so it's important to take steps to keep them cool. You can do this by:

  • providing access to shade, using a sun umbrella or by finding a shaded spot on the beach
  • keeping your dog hydrated by offering plenty of water throughout the day
  • taking a cooling mat with you for your dog to lie on
  • being aware of hot sand burning your dog's paws – if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog


All dogs should be kept indoors during periods of extreme heat.

Take pet safe sun cream

Dogs, especially those with pale-coloured fur, are vulnerable to sunburn and therefore skin cancer. It's important to take dog-safe sun cream when spending the day at the beach.

When it's very sunny, it's also a good idea to keep your dog in the shade or indoors between 10.00am and 3.00pm, when the sun is at its strongest. 

Avoid letting your dog drink sea water

Drinking too much salt water can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in your dog. Avoid letting your dog drink sea water and instead take plenty of clean, fresh water for them to drink. This is especially important if you are visiting a beach known for poor water quality.

Know your dog's swimming ability

Not every dog can swim, so before you let your dog swim in the sea, make sure you know their ability. Too much swimming can also exhaust your dog and they can get themselves into trouble if they're in deep water when tiredness kicks in.

Always watch your dog when they're in the sea. If you are not sure how well your dog can swim, you can use a harness and a long lead so your dog can paddle safely. Otherwise, it's best to keep them out of the water. 

Check tide times

A low tide can bring dangers such as a riptide, which is a strong current of water known for dragging people and dogs out to sea.

Look out for signs on the beach warning you of unsafe waters, or use the BBC's tide tables to view the tide times of beaches across the UK. If you know the tide is not going to be safe, do not let your dog swim.

Watch out for sharp objects and sticks

Broken shells, glass and debris washed up on shore can cut your dog's paws or mouth if your dog picks them up. Teaching commands such as ‘drop’ or ‘leave’ can help prevent injuries. Remember to also watch out for rockpools – they're uneven and have sharp surfaces, so a fall could lead to a nasty cut.

Sticks can cause major injuries for your dog, so be sure to take a ball or a toy to play with instead.


Be prepared for any beach injuries by keeping a travel pet first aid kit to hand.

Travelling to the beach

If you're travelling in the car in summer, remember to avoid the midday heat by travelling early or late in the day.

More about travelling with your dog in summer.

Stay safe around wildlife

There can be lots of wildlife found on beaches. To keep the wildlife and your dog safe, put your dog on a lead if you think they may approach or disturb other animals.

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• 26 June 2023

Next review

• 26 June 2026

Approved by
Róisín Bolger

Veterinary Surgeon MRCVS

Claire crouching next to her white staffie dog
Approved by
Claire Stallard

Animal Behaviourist ABTC-CAB