Bringing your pet to the beach can be a great experience for all involved. Pets get to explore a new environment and maybe even take a swim, while owners get to enjoy quality time and bonding with their pet.
Anytime you plan to bring your pet out in public, it is important to be prepared. With beaches, it is especially crucial to know whether they allow pets and what rules are in place. To help you prepare, here’s everything you need to know about pet-friendly beaches.
What Are Pet-Friendly Beaches?
Pet-friendly beaches are beaches that allow pets. They may be located along an ocean, a lake, a river, or another body of water.
Usually, pet-friendly beaches have specific policies. These may include rules about whether pets are allowed off leash, whether they can go in the water, whether they must display a rabies tag or other proof of vaccination, and whether they are allowed on the beach only during certain hours or seasons. Often, these policies are specific to dogs, the most common pet that owners bring to the beach; however, you may be able to find cat-friendly beaches or beaches that welcome other types of pets.
Types of Pet-Friendly Beaches
When it comes to pet-friendly beaches, they usually fall into two categories: beaches that are pet-friendly year round, and beaches that allow pets seasonally.
Year-round pet-friendly beaches, such as Huntington Dog Beach in California, allow owners to bring their pets regardless of time of year and often without hour restrictions.
Seasonal pet-friendly beaches usually restrict pets during summer, or other touristy or busy seasons. They may also enforce time restrictions and either forbid pets or require leashes during certain time frames. For example, the beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina has on-leash hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer.
Locations of Pet-Friendly Beaches
There are many pet-friendly beaches, and you don’t have to live on the coast to find them. A common inland location for pet-friendly beaches is state parks. These can be great places to visit with dogs, since there are often trails, hiking, and other activities to enjoy.
To find a pet-friendly beach near you, there are a lot of online resources you can utilize. There are several lists of nationally revered pet-friendly beaches (like this list from U.S. News and World Report), or you could use a resource like BringFido to look up information about beaches near you.
Tips for Visiting Pet-Friendly Beaches
The better prepared you are when visiting a new place with your pet, the more enjoyable it will be for all involved. Here are some things to keep in mind specifically for visiting pet-friendly beaches.
Research the Rules
Knowing a beach is pet-friendly is one thing, but knowing exactly what requirements they enforce requires some research. Looking up regulations, especially for beaches with seasonal or hour-restrictions, will help you prepare for your visit. Some beaches may have unexpected policies, like vaccination requirements or maximum leash lengths.
It’s always a good idea to bring plenty of fresh water and your own water bowl when traveling with your pet. They especially need to stay hydrated in hot environments like beaches. Other supplies you may need include a life jacket if your pet likes to swim, treats, toys, an umbrella for shade, and towels to dry them off after swimming.
Beware of Hazards
Depending on the beach you are visiting, there could be potential hazards for your pet. Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can be fatal if touched or consumed, and they often bloom in standing bodies of water like ponds or lakes. Your pet could also be exposed to pests at the beach, including sand fleas or ticks, so it’s a good idea to check their fur and bathe them afterward, especially if they like to roll around in the sand. Other potential dangers include heatstroke, burning hot sand, rough currents and waves, and washed up sea creatures.
Beaches can be crowded and chaotic, so it’s important to have control over your pet. If you plan to let your pet off leash, make sure that they are well-behaved around other people and animals, return to you when called, and know basic obedience commands. You should also be a responsible owner by picking up after your pet and obeying the rules.