Dog Beach Safety
A day at the beach sounds like a quintessential summer activity and Floridians in Tampa Bay have plenty of coastline to enjoy with their pups. Here are some of the most popular dog beaches in Pinellas.
- Desoto Dog Beach – 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, St. Petersburg FL 33715
- Sunset Beach Dog Park – 7545 Bayshore Dr, Treasure Island, FL 33706
- Honeymoon Island Dog Beach – 1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698
- Pass A Grille Dog Beach – 1-199 Pass A Grille Way, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706
- Belleair Causeway Boat Ramp Dog Beach – 528-538 S Belleair Causeway, Clearwater, FL 33756
- Gandy Bridge Causeway Dog Beach – 11231 Gandy Blvd N, St. Petersburg FL 33702
These unique spots provide some sandy playtime but do come with potential dangers. Here are some things to be aware of when enjoying the surf.
Salt water – Always provide fresh drinking water for your pup and discourage them from drinking any salt water. A little bit of saltwater can cause your dog to have diarrhea. Large amounts can cause a potentially fatal chemical imbalance in your dog’s body.
Hot Sand – The dangers of hot asphalt are discussed every summer but sand can also get blisteringly hot in the Florida sun. Wear shoes or time your beach visit outside of mid-day.
Currents/Shipping Channels – Some of our dog beaches are located next to natural land formations or manmade channels that create a quick current along the beach. Pets and people can get swept away from the shoreline in minutes. Be familiar with current safety and consider a lifejacket for you and your pet.
Oyster beds – Our shorelines are home to many Eastern Oyster who make their beds in the same mangrove channels we like to play in. Their shells can cause deep lacerations on unsuspecting paws and feet. Water shoes may provide some protection and are available for both you and your pup, but oyster beds should be avoided whether you have shoes or not.
Old fishing tackle, trash and food – Humans are responsible for some of the most common beach hazards. It’s always a good practice to visually scan and clear any litter you find on the beach.
Algal Blooms – In Florida, “red tide” events occur almost annually with unpredictable severity. The main organism responsible for these events, Karenia brevis, can cause respiratory distress in individuals that inhale it. Eating or playing with wildlife that has died from red tide events can cause your dog to get very sick. Pinellas County’s year-round red tide status can be checked on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website here.
In addition to beach-specific dangers, practice your normal dog park safety routine. Be aware of distractions and how they can affect your dog’s listening skills (or lack thereof). Look out for heat stroke and overexertion. Be sure your pet is current on their medications and preventives to avoid bringing any parasites home from your playdate. This may sound like a lot of worry but it’s all worth it for the dogs that enjoy social water play. Be safe and go have some fun!
About The Author: Rizal Lopez, DVM, is Chief Veterinary Officer for SPCA Tampa Bay. He and his staff have completed over 8,000 procedures since opening the St. Pete Veterinary Center in late 2016. Dr. Lopez, since joining the organization in 2011, has performed over 20,000 spay/neuter procedures for the community. He held several positions with the organization before taking the lead veterinary role at the center.