Whether you live on the coast or are going on a day out, beach walks are an incredible treat for dogs and puppies of all shapes and sizes. Whether it be a warm summer or a brisk winter, the beach is an exciting and invigorating way to change up your usual walking routine with your pet.
But what exactly are the risks, and is it ok to take a puppy to the beach?
We took our Frenchie puppy to the beach when he was younger, but we didn’t really think about this at the time. He had no problems at all, but I’ve decided to do some research into it for my readers.
Can puppies go to the beach? It is ok take a puppy to the beach but providing they have had their shots and vaccinations. Vets typically recommend you wait 10-14 days (approximately two weeks) after your puppy’s latest vaccination booster. At this stage, they are usually around 16 weeks or 4 months old.
However, even when your dog is a puppy and still older than this, it is still extra important to be extra careful around the beach. And it’s not just the beach itself (especially dog-designated beaches) that can carry disease and risks to puppies, but also the weather, tide and grits of sand that could harm them.
The good news is that all these issues with the beach can be solved simply taking steps to protect them, such keeping them on a short lead and ensuring that you don’t let them out of your sight.
But let’s talk about shots and vaccinations in a little more depth first.
Can I take my puppy to the beach without shots?
But how important exactly are vaccinations and shots for puppies going to the beach? Is this a risk you should take, after all, what are the chances of your puppy getting ill really?
Please don’t take risk and take puppy to the beach without shots, and here’s why…
Can unvaccinated puppies go to the beach? The short answer to this is no, you should not take your puppy to the beach before vaccinations and without shots. Beaches are busy places with lots of different dogs (some unvaccinated) where the risk of potentially fatal parvovirus (parvo) is higher.
So, why exactly is it not safe for unvaccinated puppies to go to the beach due to parvo? Well, if your puppy hasn’t had shots, they can easily pick up illnesses and diseases either from the environment or from another dog.
Parvovirus, or parvo is the biggest risk for puppies in an environment like the beach. It’s a deadly disease that usually strikes unvaccinated puppies and is highly infectious between dogs.
It causes an infectious gastrointestinal (GI) illness in puppies and is usually spread through faeces and is potentially fatal. Puppies without their shots are particularly prone to getting it.
What makes parvo especially precarious in environments like the beach is the fact that the virus in infected faeces can last up to seven years in cool sand according to the Noah’s Ark Vets in Australia.
Yes, you read that right. The parvo disease can survive in beach sand!
So, even if you were to take your puppy to the beach alone, there is still a considerable chance of them getting parvo through the sand if they have not had their vaccination shots.
In order to protect your puppy from the deadly risk that is parvo and other problematic diseases, it is best for their welfare that they avoid environments like beaches until they are fully vaccinated from 8 weeks and onwards (you can see a vaccination schedule lower down the page).
By ensuring your puppy is fully vaccinated with shots before letting them loose on a beach, you are protecting them from serious diseases such as parvo or anything else they might catch from the environment or any other unvaccinated dog.
Although it might be tempting to take them out before and not wait the appropriate amount of time, these vaccinations will only be effective if the guidance given to you about it is strictly adhered to.
The vaccination process for puppies
There are two main types of vaccination for your puppy which you will have to get throughout the vaccination process – this is the C3 and C5 vaccination.
- The C3 vaccination covers your puppy against hepatitis viruses, distemper and parvovirus.
- The C5 vaccination covers your puppy against all of the above – distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis viruses – as well as kennel cough.
There are three main vaccinations that your puppy needs before being fully protected from diseases, and they need to at a certain age (in weeks) to have them.
6 to 8-week vaccinations
The first vaccination should be the C3 vaccination. Although your puppy should already have had this before they were given to you, this might not have been the case.
If you haven’t been given the paperwork or haven’t been clearly told about whether they’ve been vaccinated, book this in immediately.
Can I take my 8-week-old puppy to the beach? As this is only their first vaccination and all the shots are not yet complete, I do not recommend you take your 8-week-old puppy to the beach just yet. You should wait until all shots are completed.
Similarly, I would not recommend you take a 9-week-old puppy to the beach given it’s stil the early stages in the vaccinations process.
10 to 12-week vaccinations
The second vaccination should be the C5 vaccination, which not only protects your pop from parvovirus, hepatitis viruses and distemper – but also protects them against kennel cough.
After the second booster you can start toilet training your dog outdoors or take them on short walks.
Can I take my 10 week old puppy to the beach? After the second set of shots, your 10 week old puppy can go on short walks. However, it is still advisable to avoid the beach until they have been given their third and final booster.
14 to 16-week vaccinations (optional)
At this point, you can choose whether or not your puppy can have C3 or C5 for their final booster – although your vet can help to advise you on this decision.
After they’ve had their final booster, you should wait around two weeks until you can safely take them to areas such as the beach.
Your puppy should now be fully beach-safe from viruses and diseases that can be picked up from other dogs… but there are still some other risks associated with this environment you should consider.
Are beaches safe for puppies?
You might be wondering whether beaches are the safest environment for your pups, especially since they are still growing and developing. Even if your puppy is fully vaccinated, there are a number of factors to consider before letting your pet loose on the beach.
So, before you take your pup out on their first beach walk, it is important to consider the following risks.
1. Sunburn or sunstroke
When it’s a sunny day, it is natural to want to flock to the beach. You’re probably wondering that if humans get to enjoy the beach on a sunny day, why can’t your puppy too?
Whilst you’re completely right to think that, an open environment like the beach can cause sunburn in man as well as dog. If dogs are walking on the hot promenade or the sand, they might end up burning their tummy and feet.
The best way to protect them is by preventing them in the first place – many pet shops, vets and other outlets sell specialised doggy sunscreen (view on Amazon), which will help to prevent them from getting burnt.
Furthermore, if they are out in the sun too long without any shade or hydration, they might end up developing sunstroke. It doesn’t take long for dogs to start getting tanned, to burning, then to sunstroke. Be sure to not walk them in the direct sunlight too long, favouring shady areas. You should also check how hot the sand is for them to walk on too!
Also, be sure to bring a portable water bowl and bottle with you – stopping your pup for regular drinks to prevent them from becoming too dehydrated with the heat.
By doing this, you will be able to drastically reduce the chance of your puppy getting sunstroke, but to reduce it further you should consider only going on walks during dawn and dusk, when the sun is less intense.
Handy Hint: Dogs like to lie down in the sun, even if this does mean they end up panting. But why the love of sunbathing?
2. Sand in the eyes and stomach
As well as sand potentially getting hot and burning your puppy, the fine grit can also be problematic. Sand could get stuck in their eyes, which could cause them to stream and potentially get infected.
The glare of the sun can also be harmful, which is why we always pack doggy sunglasses on hot days to protect against the rays and sand. You can see which ones we bought on Amazon – doggy sunglasses on Amazon.
If your puppy does get sand in their eye you can try and flush out the grit with warm water or specialised doggy eye drops. Or, if all else fails, please take them to vet.
Another risk is sand impaction. It can get into the stomach of your puppy – mostly when they start digging. If swallowed, sand can become impacted in their insides and create blockages. Obviously, this is a time to call the vet!
3. Sea and strong tides
The sea can be an exciting place for puppies, but you can’t expect them to swim with the same ease of a four-year-old Labrador – especially if they are a smaller-sized breed like a chihuahua. Some breeds such as French Bulldogs cannot actually swim.
With strong tides and waves, it is easy for things to get out of control. That’s why it is good to keep puppies on a short lead when near the see, with your eyes on them at all times.
If you really don’t want to take any risks, I would recommend buying a life jacket for your puppy to use at the beach safely. Here’s a puppy life jacket on Amazon.
Alternatively, just keep them by the edge of the water without actually letting them go into it. If you want to teach your puppy to swim, there are several organisations that offer specialised puppy swimming lessons.
4. Seaweed, dead fish, jellyfish, and salt poisoning
These 3 hazards are just a few of the risks your puppy can encounter at the beach. Here a little info on each one, and reasons why beaches are not always safe for puppies.
- Seaweed dangers: Most seaweed is safe for dogs to eat but the wild and dry seaweed you find on beaches can be dangerous when ingested.
- Dead fish dangers: Your puppy will be enticed by the smell of dead fish, and who can blame them. However, dead fish can contain deadly toxins that could poison your puppy.
- Salt poisoning dangers: Don’t let your puppy drink water from the sea. The high salt content can give dehydrate them very quickly and possibly lead to fatal sodium poisoning.
- Jellyfish dangers: You might have seen them washed up on the beach on the past. Don’t let your puppy near them as alive ones in shallow waters can give a nasty sting.
Handy Hint: Has your dog eaten a rotten crab on the beach? If so, you should take them to the vets. Here’s my guide which includes more tips on what to do if your dog eats a beach crab.
5. Hazards buried in the sand
Unfortunately, not everybody is as thoughtful at the beach as we are. There are plenty of dangers lurking under the sand that could hurt your puppy, for example:
- Broken glass bottles.
- Metals and plastics washed up.
- Fishing hooks and line
- Old food that has been left in the sun.
In short, what we should be asking is not if puppies can go to the beach – it’s if unvaccinated puppies can go to the beach. It’s important to keep your puppy socialised and start that early, but not at the risk of their health. Be sure to talk to your vet if you have any questions, and happy adventures!
However, as well as the issue over shots, you should also consider whether your local beaches are safe for puppies. Beaches can come with plenty of hazards, so please do prepare properly and keep your puppy safe on the sand.
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