Keep your dog safe at the beach

Many dogs love the water, and there are some beautiful beaches and riverside walks for dogs around Cornwall. But it's important to remember that not all beaches and rivers are safe for them for a number of reasons. Here is a little information which might help you to keep your dog safe on Cornish beaches.

Here are some tips to help you keep your dog safe at the beach.

  • Be wary of abandoned beaches.The stretch from Gunwalloe to Loe Bar near Porthleven, for example, has been dangerous for dogs, with some sadly drowning. There is a steep drop off in some parts of this beach, so humans or dogs who step into the water can find themselves suddenly out of their depth and it is difficult to climb up the shingle bank back to shore. Watch a beach for a while if you are unfamiliar with it. If no-one else walks their dog here, and surfers avoid it (and they will go out in most weathers!) then maybe try another beach. If in doubt, ask someone at a local beach shop or cafe if dog walkers usually let their dogs go into the water here.
  • Learn to spot a rip tide — the calm area of water between the waves, this is where all the water is flowing back out to sea, keep your dog away from this area.
  • Check tide times. Don’t walk for a long way below the high water mark or along sandy estuaries if the tide is coming in, and keep your dog away from rivers particularly if the tide is going out. Cornwall’s river valleys are very short, so tidal flow in the river can be very strong.

Here is some advice about rip tides and tidal cut off etc from the RNLI

  • If the waves are ‘dumping’ i.e. the water flows straight back out to sea rather than pushing ashore, keep your dog away from the water
  • Visit the dog friendly beach websites to find beaches where others walk their dogs safely. You can check The Good Beach Guide  to find out if a beach is dog friendly, has clean water etc.
  • If the worst should happen and your dog does get washed out to sea, heartbreaking though this may be to read, the official Coastguard advice is not to attempt to rescue your dog. Dogs are much better at swimming than us generally, and if your dog is in trouble, you are very likely to get into trouble too and you are no use to your dog if you get into difficulty. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Other dangers at the beach: 

  • Watch what your dog eats at the beach. Particularly watch for a white, waxy substance — palm oil substances have been washed ashore in recent years and this is very toxic to dogs.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen on the areas of your dog’s skin that are exposed

Stay safe, and have fun. And if there are any danger spots for dogs that you know of, please comment and we will add them to the post.

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