How To Prevent Dog Beach Accidents

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What Are the Most Common Beach Accidents For Dogs?

Thousands flock to UK’s beautiful beaches when the sun shines, for staycations, weekends, and bank holiday days out. The pandemic hasn’t really changed this habit and with our growing dog population, more dogs than ever before are enjoying staycations and fabulous days out at our seasides, so it’s even more important to stay safe and avoid unnecessary emergencies.

Popular seaside locations have put post pandemic restrictions in place, some with pre-paid parking, where effectively you are ‘reserving’ your car space at beach car parks, councils trying to ensure that popular beaches do not become too busy, such as West Wittering, West Sussex, a real favourite with Londoners for a great day out.

Popular beaches may have several dog restricted zones to help overcrowding issues, where dogs are not allowed onto those particularly areas of the beach. These restrictions usually start 1st May, and last until 30 September each year, with some beaches starting as early as 1 April or Easter time.

When you and your dog hit the beach, ensure you’re ready for eventualities before costly accidents happen.

The Most Common Accidents Vets See In their Surgeries

Debris Left On Beaches

Hide tides can bring in a multitude of debris to our coastline. This includes –

  • Fishing hooks that can be washed inshore with tides or left on the beach by careless fishermen. As one can imagine they can cause nasty paw injuries and become imbedded in dog’s mouths causing extensive pain and injury, requiring veterinary help.
  • Dead rotting fish are a nuisance for dogs if they scavenge and eat. The fish decomposing may contain deadly toxins. Cuttlefish found extensively on UK’s beaches do not pose a risk, being extremely high in calcium if eaten, but dogs have been known to choke on them.
  • Dead seaweed can be in abundance on some coastal shores, often washed up in heavy tides. If dogs eat this, it can expand in their stomachs and cause problems which will need immediate veterinary help.
  • An increasing problem of polystyrene finding itself onto UK beaches causing serious harm when eaten by dogs. Polystyrene is made into cheap single use surf boards and used as floating pontoons in marinas and with wear, breaks off, floating onto beaches, often in swarms of minute sized white balls landing on the sand and shingle.
  • Do not let your dog eat foods thrown away by beach goers who haven’t disposed of their waste in bins provided.
  • Dogs have been known to swallow pebbles which would need veterinary emergency treatment to remove the blockage.

Move your dog away onto another part of the beach if the coast has washed up debris. Keep an eye on your dog at all times.


  • Picking up balls that you may be throwing may be covered in sand which dogs ingest. If a dog swallows enough sand this can cause serious digestion problems, causing a blockage in the intestine and needs immediate attention by a vet.
  • Using drift wood and throwing sticks for dogs is not encouraged as dogs love to run, pick up and then sit and chew these which can cause splitters puncturing their mouths.

In The Water

  • Just because humans can swim doesn’t mean all dogs can. Some smaller breeds find swimming extremely difficult. Don’t encourage your dog to swim, if they do not want to.
  • However, other dogs simply love splashing around in water and swimming and can wander out too far. Currents can be unknowingly strong. If your dog is a regular swimmer, buying a dog life vest may be the answer to help provide buoyancy, particularly for when they tire in strong tides.
  • Jellyfish often can be found in warm waters around the UK. These can give humans a nasty sting, worse for dogs. Best to avoid beaches and areas where these persist.

Always listen to the advice of life guards who may be patrolling the beach.

High Temperatures

We flock to beaches because we want to enjoy sunny days but this brings added problems for your dog. If temperatures are high, it’s best to visit earlier or later in the day and avoid sitting out in the sun at midday.

  • Dogs can catch sunburn if out in the open all day on the beach where short haired and white haired breeds are more prone, and those with pink ears. Provide some shade for them, using a sun umbrella or a special dog canopy.
  • Bring lots of water and a collapsible bowl for your dog to ensure they do not become dehydrated in hot weather.
  • If you see your dog starting to drink sea water, stop them as not only is this excessively salty but will contain parasites and bacteria and cause nasty upset stomachs.
  • Hot sand can burn our feet at the best of times, and likewise, hurt dog paws. Try to avoid walks at the hottest times.

Leaving Beaches

  • Many of our beaches have scrubland and scientific areas of interest at the upper shores. Scientific areas often have designated walk ways which the public must keep to, for your, and your dogs safety. Nasty adders and other snakes lurk in the grasses which can give your dog a nip and can prove fatal.
  • Your dog will need water before travelling home.
  • Keep a bundle of old towels handy in your car to dry off your dog if they have been swimming, and to clean paws wiping off all sand. When home, give them a good bath to remove all debris.
  • Take all your rubbish home with you or dispose in bins provided, including dog poop which is your responsibility to clean up off beaches, pop in poop bags, and dispose of in designated bins.

If your pet has suffered an injury and you are not sure what to do, contact your veterinary surgery or use the video chatlines that are now available 24/7 manned by qualified vets.

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