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Things to look out for when taking your dog to the beach

Australia is a nation of beach-lovers and it’s fun to share a great day out with our dogs. Many of us know to follow beach etiquette by taking doggie bags to clean up after our dogs, but did you know that there’s a number of other things you should consider? Before we grab our towels and head for the coast, it’s important to consider how to keep our pets safe. Read on to find out what you should look out for to help keep your dog happy and healthy on your next trip to the beach.

Confirm the beach is dog friendly

Firstly, check if the beach you plan to visit allows dogs and whether it is an off-leash or on- leash beach. These rules can change depending on the time of day and season, so make sure you check the relevant websites regularly.

Consider the breed of your dog

Certain breeds such as those with exaggerated features (e.g., flat-faced, short-nosed ‘brachycephalic’ dogs like pugs and bulldogs) often struggle to breathe effectively at the best of times, so if you are taking them to the beach on a hot day, it will likely be very uncomfortable for them and isn’t recommended. Overweight dogs, elderly dogs and those with long or heavy coats can also find a beach trip exhausting and uncomfortable on very hot days.

A shorter beach visit at cooler times of day, access to shade cover (like a beach umbrella or cabana) or the use of a beach trolley for transport should be considered to ensure the comfort of your furry friend.

Sensitivity to heat

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition which occurs when a dog’s core body temperature rises so high they are unable to cool themselves down. Watch for signs of dehydration and overexertion and make sure your dog gets plenty of rest in the shade with plenty of cool. fresh water to drink.

Be prepared to leave early if your dog appears uncomfortable. Never leave them unattended in a car – it only takes six minutes for a dog to overheat and die in a hot vehicle. Signs of heatstroke include fast panting, distress, weakness, confusion and collapsing. Your dog needs immediate veterinary care if they show any of these signs.

Watch out for hot surfaces, like sand, rocks, metal and asphalt, which can be painful for your dog’s paws and can cause injuries. If your dog is pale skinned, be aware that these dogs can burn quickly in the sun so make sure you take extra care.

Some things you can do to help keep your dog safe from the heat include: scheduling your beach trip during cooler times, considering a rash vest, applying dog-safe sunscreen, and sitting under a shade cover.

Puppy health

Puppies under four months of age can tire easily and may not yet be fully vaccinated. A checkup with your veterinarian is recommended to ensure your puppy’s vaccinations and parasite control are current before heading to the beach, where they are likely to encounter other dogs and people.


Australia has a range of amazing wildlife, and the beach is no exception. Be alert for potentially hazardous animals, such as puffer fish and bluebottle jellyfish, which can cause serious injury to other animals and humans. It may look like fun for your dog to chase birds, crabs or other wildlife but it’s highly stressful for the wildlife, so please take steps to ensure your dog doesn’t do this.

Watch out for sticks

Did you know it’s never a good idea to throw sticks for your dog to fetch? Sadly, sticks can seriously injure dogs, either when catching them, picking them up, running with them and chewing them. Injuries caused by sticks can include wounds to the mouth, throat and adjacent tissues and fractures, these can also become infected and lead to abscesses if left untreated. To help keep your dog safe, it is best to leave the sticks alone and look for safer alternatives when playing fetch with your dog.

An Australian tradition

We all love relaxing with our furry best friend and beach visits can be a fun day out together. By being mindful of the time of day, other animals, weather conditions, and whether the beach is dog friendly, you can ensure you and your furry friend enjoy your day at the beach.

Should your dog become sick or injured, pet insurance may help you with the cost of eligible veterinary bills. If you’re with RSPCA Pet Insurance, a portion of first-year premiums will go towards supporting the great work of the RSPCA.

Dr Catherine Tiplady bio image

Dr Catherine Tiplady

Dr Catherine Tiplady studied veterinary science at the University of Queensland. After graduation, Dr Catherine worked in veterinary practice whilst undertaking postgraduate research in Animal Welfare, gaining additional degrees in Bachelor of Applied Science (Animal Studies) (Hons 1) and a PhD. Dr Catherine has published widely in peer reviewed scientific journals and has also authored a book, ‘Animal Abuse: Helping Animals and People’. Currently working in small animal practice, Dr Catherine also has her own business performing gentle in-home pet euthanasia and provides veterinary care and desexing services for animal welfare charities. Dr Catherine brings her passion for animal welfare, love of writing and scientific training together to contribute quality content to RSPCA Pet Insurance’s Pet Care blog.