I doubt I’m the only one who chose to make my home in the Topsail area because the beaches are all dog-friendly. Moving to Hampstead was a dream come true for us and our dogs. Finally, our favorite place on earth, the beach, was within minutes from our home, and we could put the dogs in the car and head out for a relaxing walk anytime we had a spare hour. For the last 5 years, we’ve walked many miles up and down the beach with our own dogs and those of our clients. We’d like to share a little of what we’ve learned to help you make the most of each walk you take with your own precious pup. If you don’t have time to read the whole article, please remember this:
Heat exhaustion can happen quickly and is life-threatening. Take precautions during the summer to prevent your dog from overheating. Read on to learn more. Happy walking!
What to Bring When You Walk Your Dog on the Beach:
Your vision of a beachy dog walk may be as simple as throwing on your flip flops, opening the car door for your canine pal, and heading out. To make your trip more enjoyable, here are some items you’ll want to have with you.
- Water: Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink… Invest in a portable water carrier for your pup. We like the “Gulpy” because you can attach it to your shorts or belt instead of carrying it. Your pooch needs lots of water on sunny days – having something to offer him may keep him from sipping as much salt water, and could save his life.
- Waste Bags: They poop, we scoop! Let’s keep our beaches clean and prevent complaints that might eventually prohibit dogs from beaches. If you forget your bags, check the public accesses – many are equipped with waste bag dispensers. Don’t want to carry your bags? Tie one or two to your leash.
- Towels: We’ve made our peace with gritty seats, but you don’t have to. If you value a clean car, get a cargo cover designed for dog transport, or use blankets and towels. Some beach accesses have outdoor showers (great to get the salt water out of your pooch’s coat.) You can also try a dog brush or whisk broom to desand your buddy.
- Car Kit for Your Every Need: Eventually you’ll learn: It’s either 10 degrees hotter or colder on the beach than the mainland, and the wind can be unpredictable. I have a bin in my car with a rain jacket, sweat jacket, scarf, hat, first aid kit, sunscreen, and flashlight.
- Flashlight: Night beach walks can be dreamy but oh so dark.
- Ball: For those special trips to the off-leash beach!
Where To Walk Your Dog on Topsail Island:
All of our Topsail Island Beaches are dog-friendly; however, leash laws may affect your choice. North Topsail and Surf City Beaches stipulate that your dog should be leashed at all times. If you are looking for an off-leash fun run, head south to the tip of Topsail Beach between October 1 and May 14 (off-season). Even with the looser restrictions, Topsail Beach does stipulate that your dog should respond to voice recall when off leash. The locals call the tip of Topsail Beach “Serenity Point”, so remember, lots of folks make the trek for different reasons. Please respect the safety and serenity of dog-free folks, leashed pup walkers, and children. If your dog doesn’t do well with other dogs, children, or people, or if he loves them so much that he greets them paws to chest, a nice long leash might be the perfect option for your fun- loving rascal. In season, Topsail Beach requires all dogs to be leashed year round.
Where to Walk Your Senior Dog at Surf City Beach
If you or your dog need to avoid steep boardwalk stairs, try the Surf City public accesses at Kinston Avenue or Wilmington Avenue, where you will find wide accesses (for cars) that you can walk across. There are other options that may still be closed due to damage from Hurricane Florence. I am posting only accesses I know are currently open.
Surf City Beach Accesses with Showers and Bathrooms
You’ll find more locations as you familiarize yourself with the area, but for starters try Kinston Avenue or New Bern Avenue in Surf City if you want to rinse your pup or yourself after your walk.
When Is It Okay to Walk Your Dog on the Beach?
Now is the perfect answer to this question! If you and your pup are prepared with your car kit and ready to greet the elements, people, and creatures you’ll most likely encounter, don those flip-flops and don’t slam your dog’s tail in the door as you rush out! We’ve been here for a few years now and still make the journey on a whim, but when summer and tourist season hit, we are much more selective. Here are a few things we’ve discovered that may make your peak season beach walks more enjoyable.
- Tides: When the tide is high and the beach is packed, walking your dog can be a hassle. Weaving through clusters of people, their belongings, tents, food items, and beach chairs is a like inviting your dog to a scavenger hunt, then telling him he can’t participate. A quick glance at a local tide chart can give you the low down for the week, with the added bonus of learning when you can catch the first light of the day or a beautiful sunset.
- Temperature: Dogs love roaming the beach, but they don’t always know when to say when. All dogs run the risk of overheating (a potentially deadly situation) in the summer. It is well worth a few minutes of your time to watch a few videos on how to prevent your pup from overheating, and how to recognize the signs should they occur. In peak summer season, take your dog for a walk only in the early morning or after dusk. Keep your pup’s paw pads wet to help him regulate his temperature, and keep your walks short and at a slower pace. Our dog starts digging when she gets hot. Learn your dog’s signals, and look for a shady place to rest under some beach stairs if needed. Use that water bottle to refresh your pooch, douse your dog with water or carry him into the ocean for immediate cooling if he starts to show signs of heat exhaustion, then head immediately to the vet. If there is someone near with a cooler full of ice, pack some in a towel and use it to cool his lower abdomen. Take this very seriously – I’ve seen it happen, and dogs can die from the harmful effects of extended high body temperature on their internal organs.
- Sun burn: Can dogs sunburn? Absolutely! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s pretty cute to see a dog strutting his stuff on the beach in a punk style modified t-shirt, but I think the better solution is to let him rest in air-conditioned comfort till the sun goes down.
Do Dogs Like Walking on the Beach?
Dogs love walks, and for them, the journey is the destination. The fresh salt air, the breeze in their fur, the smelly fish parts they inevitably scavenge or roll on, the opportunity to frisk in the waves and greet their doggy brethren, and the attention they’ll likely attract as they strut their stuff are all great reasons to take your dog on a beach walk. Most dogs love the beach, but some may be sensitive to the loud surf, the heat, the salt water, or the peak season crowds. Take your dog for a short outing if he has never been to the beach before. Try it! We think you’ll both fall in love.
The Most Important Things to Know When You Walk Your Dog on the Beach:
Overheating can happen quickly, so keep peak season walks short and walk in the early morning or late evening. Always carry water when walking your dog on the beach.
Beach walks are a great way to bond with your pup. A little sand to clean up is a small price to pay for the joy you and your best friend experience as you stroll our beautiful Topsail Island Beaches.