These days, it is much easier to travel with your pets than it used to be. Thirty-seven percent of pet owners now bring their furry kids along on vacations. This number has gone up from only 19 percent 10 years ago. It can be a lot of fun to bring your pups with you on a trip, especially if you’re planning to bring them to the beach with you. Fun aside, there are quite a few things you should do before setting out. The following trip tips should ensure pet parents a smoother, less stressful vacation to the beach.
The following tips will help your trip run smoothly. Having your dogs at the beach can be a lot of fun. If you prepare correctly for traveling with a dog, there shouldn’t be any hiccups regarding whether or not your dog will be welcome at your beach destination.
Make Sure You Reserve Dog-Friendly Accommodations: If you make reservations at a known dog-friendly hotel, don’t assume you will receive a dog-friendly room if you make reservations through a travel website. Contact the hotel directly to reserve a dog-friendly room. Most dog-friendly hotels have a floor set aside for guests who bring dogs. You will likely have to pay an additional pet fee per night and possibly a room deposit.
Bring a Copy of Your Dog’s Health Records and Proof of Vaccinations: Some campgrounds and possibly hotels may ask to look at these records when you check in. Many hotels require that guests’ dogs are on a flea and tick preventative as well.
Ensure Your Dog’s ID Tags Are up to Date: Your dog’s tags should have your cell phone number or another number where you can be reached while you’re on vacation.
Know the Beach’s Rules: If you have a beach in mind that you’d like to visit with your pup, find out if dogs are allowed to be there. A lot of beaches do not allow dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day. For instance, dogs are allowed on the beach in Ocean City, N.J., between October 1 and April 30. Research dog-friendly beaches near your destination.
Most likely, you’ll be driving. If you’re driving a car or an RV, you’re going to have to prepare it for your pup. Vacations with dogs require more than just the usual preparation. The following are tips for prepping your vehicle:
Have a Way to Secure Your Dog: Some dogs can be anxious or rambunctious. If your vehicle is large enough and can afford the room, a crate will make your dogs comfortable, especially if they enjoy the crate at home. An effective option is a placing a barrier or screen between the driver’s compartment and the back seat. Seatbelt harnesses are a great way to protect your dogs from becoming projectiles or getting injured in case there’s an accident. A useful safety tip involves the airbag. If your pet is sitting in the front passenger seat, make sure they wear a seatbelt harness and the passenger side airbag is turned off.
Clean out Your Car: You don’t want your dogs to chew on things they aren’t supposed to, or get into wrappers or discarded tissues and napkins. Clean out the clutter. It’s good for your dogs and your peace of mind.
Protect Your Seats: Lay out a dog-proof blanket on your car seats or purchase waterproof, hair-resistant seat covers for your pooch. This goes a long way in keeping your seats free of dirt, dander, drool and hair.
Get Squared With the Veterinarian
Before your trip, visit your veterinarian to ensure that your dogs are ready to take off on a trip with you:
See to it that all their vaccines are up to date.
Address issues regarding flea, tick and heartworm medications if they aren’t on a regimen already.
Make sure your pup’s microchip information is up to date. Ask your vet to scan your dog’s microchip to check its information. You’ll want to do this in case your dog runs off or gets separated from you. Animal shelters have microchip scanners in case your dog ends up taken to one.
Talk to your vet about a first aid kit and medications for motion sickness or diarrhea, just to be prepared.
Items to Bring for Your Dog
Dogs need a lot of things when they go on vacation with you. Make a checklist of all the things they will need so that you won’t forget anything. Some of the following items may seem obvious, but you’d never believe how easy it is to forget something as important as dog food.
Your Dog’s Food and Snacks: You might not be able to find your dog’s brand of daily food so don’t assume you’ll be able to buy it at your destination. Pack enough dog food for the entire trip along with some extra just in case your trip needs to be extended a little. If you’re bringing canned food, don’t forget the can opener.
Drinking Water: If your dog has a sensitive stomach, bring drinking water from home in jugs. If this is difficult, or you lack space in your car, you can always buy jugs of spring water or other drinking water from nearby convenience stores.
Bowls for Water and Food: There are spill-proof water bowls that are great for the car. Keeping a couple of these in the car is a good idea, especially for your travel days.
Recent Photos of Your Dog: It’s a good idea to have some photos of your dog in the event you get separated. They can be used to prove that your dog is really your dog.
Paper Towels and Cleansers: Keep these in your car to clean up any muddy messes or spills.
An Older Towel: Use this to dry your dog off after a swim or if you get caught up in a sudden rainfall.
All Your Pup’s Medications and Supplements: If your dog is on medication or supplements, do not forget these. You may not be able to get an emergency prescription, depending on where you will be traveling.
Poop Bags: Being an exemplary dog parent who picks up after your pooches will contribute to more and more hotels and parks welcoming dogs.
A First Aid Kit: This is something that your veterinarian can help you choose. There are kits for sale at pet stores, or you can build your own kit if you want.
Pet-Safe Sunscreen and Insect Repellent: Protect your pups’ noses with sunscreen formulated for dogs. Insect repellents are a necessary defense against the many biting insects on some of those beaches.
Leashes of Varying Lengths: A lot of places that welcome dogs will require you keep them on a leash that is a maximum of 6 feet long. Think about buying a longer leash of perhaps 10 to 20 feet in length if you’re interested in going for a hike or if you want your dog to feel like they’re running off-leash in an open area.
Fun and Safety on the Beach
We’ve gone over preparations to make before your trip. Additionally, you now have a list of important items to bring for travel. Now, it’s time to go over some helpful information that will all but ensure a safe and fantastic time for you and your furry companion.
Does Your Dog Like to Swim: This may sound odd, but you should find out if Fido enjoys swimming. Start your dog in a quieter area with calmer waters if you’ve never taken your dog swimming before. You need to do this because not all dogs enjoy the water. They may enjoy just taking a walk along the seaside. Remember that big waves and strong currents can overwhelm dogs even if they are experienced swimmers. Watch your dogs closely while they are in the water. Familiarize yourself with how to swim out of rip currents. Finally, if your dogs enjoy the water but aren’t strong swimmers, get them life vests.
Paw Pad Protection Protocol: Beach sand can get incredibly hot. Humans wearing beach shoes may not notice just how hot the sand is. Dog booties can protect your dog’s feet from the hot sand. Also, some ointments can be applied to your pups’ paw pads to protect from the extremely hot sand.
Made in the Shade: Giving your dogs several breaks from the direct sun will prevent them from getting overheated. Besides the obvious standard larger beach umbrella, consider getting an actual shade tent. There are many different types available. A shade tent will provide shelter from sand-speckled winds on the beach as well as shade, depending on the type of tent you buy.
Apply That Sunscreen: Remember that pet-friendly sunscreen mentioned earlier? Apply it to your dog’s nose. It might be hard to believe, but dogs can get a sunburn just like us humans. You’ll be fine using any sunscreen formulated for canines, folks with sensitive skin or babies as long as the sunscreen doesn’t contain zinc oxide. Sunscreen should go on your dog’s nose, ears and sensitive belly and groin areas.
Include a Lot of Drinking Water in the Cooler: A hot, sunny beach can easily dehydrate a dog. Pack more cool, drinkable water than you think you’re going to need for your dog. Remember to bring a bowl along as well. Keeping your dogs well hydrated will hopefully prevent them from drinking salty ocean water, which is highly dangerous.
Ingesting Too Much Saltwater Can Be Deadly: Speaking of dangerous saltwater, we can’t overemphasize how dangerous it can be for your dog to ingest too much seawater. Dogs can become dangerously ill, and even die if they drink too much saltwater. To avoid saltwater poisoning, vets advise you to bring plenty of fresh, cool drinking water in a cooler to the beach with you, and make sure your dog drinks a lot of it. The less thirsty your pup is, the less he’ll try to drink the saltwater in the surf. Limit playtime in the water to thirty minutes at a time while keeping a sharp eye on your dog to ensure that he isn’t drinking from the ocean. Several breaks will also help cool your pup down while you give them cool, fresh water to drink. Limit total playtime in the surf to two hours. After you leave the beach, keep a close eye on your dog. If they exhibit any diarrhea or vomiting, you should take them to a vet immediately to make sure they aren’t suffering from saltwater poisoning.
Add to the Fun With Toys: Your canine buddy will enjoy the surf and the sand. They probably just love being wherever you are. Enhance the trip to the shore with some favorite toys. Bringing some water-friendly balls, Frisbees or even a tug toy will add to the fun you are already having with your dog.
Bring the Leashes to the Beaches: The leashes of varying sizes mentioned earlier will come in handy here. Check your beach’s leash length requirements first. You can use long leashes at the beach if you want your dog to “roam” a little. If you keep your dog on a leash, you can ensure they won’t ingest too much saltwater — or anything else they’re not supposed to.
Dispose of Dog Waste Properly: Remember to bring several poop bags with you whenever you head out to the beach. Don’t just leave your dog’s poop there on the beach or in the water. You don’t want to leave a nasty surprise for someone else to step in.
Canine Facial Rinse: If your dog loves to dig in the sand or charge into the sandy surf, keep a bottle of clean cool water nearby to rinse your dog’s face. You want to do this often as dogs like to rub their own faces with their paws. You certainly don’t want your canine rubbing at his own face with paws that are caked in sand. This is where an old towel comes in handy as well. Wet the towel with some water and gently wipe the sand off your dog nose, mouth and eye areas.
Keep Their Inner Ears Dry: Many dogs contract ear infections easily. To avoid this, be sure to dry your dogs’ ears after they’re done swimming. Talk to your veterinarian about ear cleaning rinses to help eliminate bacteria and moisture in your dogs’ ear canals.
Keep an Eye out for Dangerous Objects: Dogs can injure their paws at the beach. From broken seashells to discarded fishing lines and fish hooks, there are many hazards for your dog’s feet. Be vigilant by keeping an eye on the areas your dog walks, as well as an eye on your dog. Watch your pup for any small sign of injury or limping.
Light the Way: If you’re planning to be out on the beach at night with your dog, buy a LED light you can attach to your dog’s collar or bring a strong flashlight. You want to be able to see your surroundings and what’s on the beach under your and your pup’s feet. It’s a great way to ensure the safety of you both.
A Post-Beach Rinse: If salt and sand remain on your dog after the beach, it can irritate their skin. Each time you return from the beach, rinse your dog thoroughly. An important safety tip — if you are using a hose that’s been laying out in the sun all day, make sure you turn on the hose and spray the water out away from you and your dog for at least a minute or when cool water comes out. You can seriously burn your dog — and yourself — if you don’t get rid of the hot water first. If you’re staying at a beach house with an outdoor shower, this is ideal for washing away the salt and sand off your dog and yourself.
One More Important Tip for a Great Vacation
The most important tip is to have fun! All of these tips are meant to help you can have a fantastic trip to the beach with your precious pooch. Explore the surroundings together, share some snacks and relax in the breezy shade of your canopy. And take a lot of pictures and make some terrific memories. Your best friend is thrilled to be with you. Enjoy your vacation. For more helpful information about vacations in Ocean City, N.J., check out our family vacations page or download our free Visitor’s Guide. We hope to see you and your pup soon.