Dear Davi,

I’d like nothing more than to take a trip to the beach with my family. Any tips for making our visit enjoyable?

Lola the Labradoodle


One of the greatest things about living in Florida is the beach. What dog doesn’t like to run along the sandy shore and dip their paws in the salty surf? Many of my canine friends absolutely love exploring the sights and smells along the coast. But, for all its excitement, the beach can spell trouble, too. Taking time to prepare and knowing what to expect once you get there can make your outing fun—and safe.

Know the Rules
After choosing a hot spot to hang out, check the rules:  Remember that beach rules are actually laws, and are punishable by a citation or fine.

Some beaches allow dogs only in the early morning and after chow time, while others grant round-the-clock access. Also, make sure to follow the leash laws; few dog-friendly beaches have an off-leash policy. Not picking up poop can harm our coast, so your human should always bring waste bags to clean up after your potty breaks. For them, lying in the sun and smelling your business is disgusting. Stay off the dunes—making foot, and paw traffic illegal helps protect our shoreline.

Not All Dogs Can Swim
Some dogs woof with excitement for water; others, not so much. Humans assume all dogs can swim. Truth is, they can’t. Find some calm water to practice your doggie paddle before hitting the waves. When in doubt, wear a life vest for protection. And never go in unsupervised. Your human should always be prepared to save you from dangerous conditions … and vicious sea creatures. (Bum bum bum bum … can you hear the music?)

Don’t Drink the Water
It can be tempting to take a quick sip walking along the shore, but guzzling too much salt water is a bad idea. It can lead to beach diarrhea and make for a messy day and ride home. Pack plenty of fresh, cool water to rehydrate.

Block the Rays 
Dogs are prone to sunburn just like humans, particularly those breeds with short hair, white fur and pink skin. Apply doggie sunscreen to nose, ears and body at least half an hour before going outside. Don’t use sunscreen with zinc—it can be toxic to dogs. Make sure to find a shady retreat. It may not protect from sunburn, but it can help beat the heat.

Protect Your Paws
If the sand’s too hot for human feet, chances are it’s hot enough to burn pup’s paws. Sharp shells, broken glass and rough rock? Dangerous. Use a paw balm or wax for pawtection and inspect paws for cuts and scrapes when you get home.

Rinse Well
At the end of the day, rinse off. Remove salt and sand from your coat and give the insides of your ears a quick wipe to remove excess water.

Staying safe and maintaining consideration for other beach users, human or canine, is a winning combination for an enjoyable time at the beach.

Surf’s up!

Davi the dachshund isn’t so good at beach volleyball, but he’ll chase a crab any day.