two dogs playing in the sea
Two dogs playing in the sea

When are dogs allowed on the beach? Our guide to enjoying the seaside with you pet

Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside – and so do our dogs. But we know that pet parents have some questions before you go on a summer trip: from ‘Can you put sunscreen on dogs?’ to ‘Is sea water bad for dogs?’ and ‘Can dogs get skin cancer?’ Our pet experts are here to answer your questions about all things seaside, from dogs drinking sea water to dog friendly beaches.

When are dogs allowed on the beach?

Our dogs love playing in the sea, but it’s important that we can all enjoy the beach safely. For this reason, some beaches don’t allow dogs, or only allow them at certain times of the year. Dogs are welcome on most beaches outside of the busy summer months, so if you want to take your pet on a seaside walk this season, check what the rules are. There are plenty of dog friendly beaches in the UK – you can find a full list of them here.

A dog sitting by a sunny lake, being stroked by a person
Dog sitting by a sunny lake, being stroked by a person

Is sea water bad for dogs?

If your dog is drinking sea water while they’re splashing about on a dog friendly beach, you might be worried it could do them harm. Sea water is bad for your dog because it has a high salt content. Ingesting salt can cause dehydration, vomiting, lethargy and diarrhoea – but if your dog is drinking sea water excessively, this sodium can build up to toxic levels, causing seizures, kidney damage, and even death. Contact your vet immediately if your dog was drinking sea water and is showing any signs of sodium poisoning.

If your dog is drinking sea water, it’s likely because they’re thirsty, so give them plenty of fresh water and shade. Having a break after every 15 minutes of swimming in the sea can also reduce the risk of sodium poisoning.

Can you put sunscreen on dogs?

Dogs can get sunburned, especially if they have white fur and light skin. You can put sunscreen on dogs to protect them from the sun’s harmful rays – and, in fact, you should!

Applying sunscreen:

  • Apply sunscreen to the parts of your dog that are sensitive to the sun – this is areas that don’t have much hair, like their nose, lips, ears, tummy and groin

  • Let the sunscreen soak into your dog’s skin for a few minutes – make sure they don’t lick it off

  • Use a special dog sunscreen – The ingredients in some sunscreens for humans can be toxic to pets

  • Re-apply sunscreen throughout the day – especially during the hottest part of the day (from 11am to 3pm), and if your dog has been swimming

Can dogs get skin cancer?

Like us, dogs can get skin cancer. Dogs with light-coloured skin or thin fur are most at risk, and your dog’s age and breed can also play a part. Regularly applying sunscreen and making sure your dog has plenty of shade in hot weather can help lower the risk. Keep an eye out for any lesions, lumps and scabs on your dog’s skin – they may be a sign of skin cancer, and early treatment will give your pet the best chance of making a full recovery.

Take a look at our advice pages for more tips about having fun with your pet this summer.

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