Top dog-friendly beaches for summer
Everyone loves the seaside, especially dogs. But not all coastlines in the UK are geared up for our four-legged friends during the summer months, so we asked our very own team of canine beach experts for their recommendations.
Harbour Cove, Cornwall
Why Billy loves this beach: “There’s a huge expanse of sand, at low tide almost a mile and a half, plus it is relatively quiet even in summer – so there’s plenty of space for me to run and play ball! The water is great for paddling and swimming and at low tide there are sometimes pools of water on the beach to explore, too.”
Facilities: car parking
North Beach at Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear
Why Bramble loves this beach: “There are loads of dogs there – always someone to play with – but the beach is so huge that it still manages to look empty. It’s one of my favourite places to be - if you want a good clean dog beach with plenty of nearby facilities and the opportunity to nosey around rock pools next to the lighthouse then you can’t beat it here.”
Facilities and attractions: cafe/restaurant, toilets, disabled facilities and promenade
Holkham Beach, North Norfolk
Why Sunny and Annie love this beach: “There is so much space for running here, even on a busy day. The beach is a whole mile deep when the tide is out and the pine woods along its edge are the perfect place for cooling off on hot days, if you don’t fancy a dip in the sea! There’s also plenty of wildlife to spot, including seals and birds – but you’re not allowed to play with them as they’re very special!”
Facilities: car parking
West Beach, Whitstable, Kent
Why Alfie loves this beach: “I’m not a fan of sand; it gets everywhere, you know. So the pebbles here suit me just fine. There’s lots of space for running and the sea stays very shallow pretty far out, great for dogs with little legs like me! The people are so friendly, too – there’s always a water bowl with fresh water outside the cafes and shops.”
Facilities and attractions: cafe/restaurant, toilets, beach hut hire, pub
Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex
Why Mary loves this beach: “Boy, is this place spectacular. The beach is where the South Downs meet the English Channel, and I just love the white cliffs in the background (apparently, they’re called the Seven Sisters). We like to take the walk beside the river down to the pebble beach, and there’s even a nature reserve nearby which I love to explore. But the main thing is there’s plenty of water to splash around in!”
Facilities and attractions: cafe/restaurant, toilets, shop
Fistral Beach, Cornwall
Why Buster loves this beach: “Forget surfing (lots of people seem to do that here), it’s all about running at this beach - as fast as you can. The only trouble I have is remembering to stop, the sand goes on forever! When I’m out of breath, I’ll dip my paws in the sea and watch the waves rolling in, or explore the caves and rock pools with my owners.”
Facilities and attractions: showers, toilets, car parking, restaurants/cafes
Milford on Sea, Hampshire
Why Oz loves this beach: “I have an absolute blast when I come to this beach, everyone’s so friendly and I can always find another dog to run about with. My owners love it here too, as there’re two dog-friendly cafes on the seafront with brilliant views. If you fancy a change of scenery, there’s also the nearby New Forest to explore too.”
Facilities and attractions: showers, toilets, car parking, cafe/restaurants
Barmouth in Gwynedd
Why Oscar loves this beach: “I may be nine years old but as soon as my paws touch the sand, I feel like a puppy again and can’t stop rolling around. There’s a small section of the beach where I’m not allowed between April and September, but it’s three miles long so there’s still plenty of space for me to run around without bothering any sunbathers!”
Facilities and attractions: cafe/restaurant, toilets, disabled facilities
Why Gordon loves this beach: “Blue Cross took me here to cheer me up while I was waiting for a home, and it’s a day I’ll never forget. They think it was the first time I’ve been on sand, as I walked on my tippy toes at first before running around in circles with excitement! Then I paddled in the sea; I didn’t go in very deep, but braver dogs could if they wanted to! Dogs are welcome here all year round, as long as they stay in the bits between the Grand Pier and Knightstone Island and from Royal Sands to Uphill”
Facilities and attractions: toilets, cafes
Clachan Sands, North Uist, Outer Hebrides
Why Stan loves this beach: “My owner tells me this place is about as remote as you can get in the UK and, let me tell you, it’s pretty impressive. The beach has the whitest sand I’ve seen and the sea is crystal clear. There’s plenty of space for me to run free and feel my ears flapping in the wind. It’s a true outdoor holiday full of walks and fun for dogs like me.”
Facilities and attractions: benches, parking
How to keep your dog safe on the beach
The beach is fun for all the family and your dog will love getting in on the action with you too. But there are some things to think about while you're out adventuring.
When temperatures rise know the signs of heatstroke and act fast.
Like humans, dogs – especially those with pale-coloured fur or a sparse coat – are vulnerable to sunburn and therefore skin cancer. So, make sure they’re indoors or in the shade on sunny days during the hours of maximum UV intensity (usually between 10:00am and 4:00pm). Look into dog-friendly sun cream for those days you know you’ll be out adventuring. Seek prompt veterinary advice if your dog or cat’s skin looks sore, crusty or scaly.
Broken shells and debris washed up on shore can cut dogs paws or mouths if they pick them up.
Throwing a stick for your dog can cause major injuries. So be sure to take a ball or a toy that they can play with instead.
With uneven and sharp surfaces a fall in the wrong direction could lead to a bad cut, especially if your dog decides to run through them.
Drinking too much salt water can make them poorly and can cause them to throw up.
Too much swimming can exhaust your dog. They can drown if they’re in deeper water and tiredness kicks in. Remember, not every dog can swim, and some are stronger swimmers than others. So, get to know your dog’s abilities and keep a close eye on them.
Be mindful of the tide. A low tide can bring dangers such as a riptide (a strong current of water that flows away from shore). Riptides have been known for dragging people and dogs out to sea. So, it’s best to take your dog at a time when the sea is steady and isn’t about to come in or go out.
Many dogs are food orientated. If you know your dog is very excited by food, pop them on lead. Off lead dogs can not only be frustrating for those enjoying the picnic, but they may also pick up something they shouldn’t eat.
It’s good to be mindful of others using the beach. Be respectful of other dogs and, if they’re passing on lead, pop your dog on lead too. We have some great advice on lead etiquette with your dog.
Horses and other animals
Travelling with your dog in the car
We have some great advice on how to travel safely with your dog in the car. Remember to avoid the midday heat by travelling early or late in the day and you can use a misting spray to keep your dog cool, but avoid their face.
- Always clean up after your dog
- Some areas, including promenades, may ask you to keep your dog on a lead
- Many beaches in the UK have restrictions on dogs from around Easter time to the end of September. Check the local council's website for up to date information before you travel