Donate now

RNLI and Dogs Trust team up to keep the nation’s dogs safe on the coast

Lifeboats News Release

As millions are set to flock to the seaside to make the most of the warm weather, two of the UK’s leading charities – Dogs Trust and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) – have teamed up to ensure our canine friends and their owners stay safe on the coast this summer.

It is thought that a third of all UK households now own a dog, and last year the RNLI rescued 164 of these dogs around the UK’s coastlines. So far this year the charity that saves lives at sea has plucked dogs from the waves, rescued stricken puppies trapped on coastal ledges, and canines cut off by the tide.

To reduce the number of incidents involving dogs on the UK’s coast, Dogs Trust and the RNLI have published some guidance to help dogs and their owners to enjoy the seaside safely together this summer.

Before you head out to the beach or on a coastal walk, it’s essential that you always check the weather and tide times, and avoid taking your dog out in high temperatures.

Dogs can’t regulate their body heat in the same way as humans, so extra care needs to be taken in hot weather. If dogs are too hot and can’t reduce their body temperature enough, they may develop heatstroke which can be fatal.

If you are happy that the weather is suitable for your dog, Dogs Trust and RNLI offer the following advice to help you enjoy a trip to the seaside with your four-legged friend:

Dogs Trust and the RNLI’s Top Tips for Seaside Success

  • Check you’re going to a dog-friendly beach
    • Some beaches have a dog-free policy at times of the year, and others have dog-free areas. But don’t worry; there are plenty of dog-friendly beaches all around the UK.
  • Make sure you keep your dog on a lead if you are close to cliff edges or fast-flowing water
    • If you are on the beach and your dog has not yet mastered the art of recall, make sure you keep them on a lead. Long training leads will give your dog the freedom to explore while helping to keep them safe.
  • Always check the tide times
    • Before you head out for a walk with your dog on the coast, always check the tide times and plan your trip accordingly to ensure you don’t get stranded. Tide times and heights fluctuate throughout the month so an area that was accessible throughout the day last week may get completely cut off today.
  • Make sure the sand isn’t too hot
    • Dogs love spending time in the sand, digging and exploring. But before you take your dog on the beach, check that the sand isn't too hot. If you can stand on it comfortably barefoot then it should be ok for them too.
  • Provide shade and fresh drinking water for your dog all day, and pack some tasty treats so you can swap any unsuitable items your pup picks up on the beach for a dog-friendly snack.
  • Don't let them get burned
    • Keep your dog out of direct sunlight where you can. Use pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your dog’s skin, like the tips of their ears and nose. Ask your vet for more advice if needed.
  • Dogs shouldn't drink sea water as it can cause sickness and saltwater poisoning
    • Also keep a close eye on them to make sure they're not eating anything they shouldn't such as seaweed or plastic. Call the local vet if they do.
  • Rinse any sand and seawater off your dog's coat and paws with tap water to stop it from accumulating and causing irritation.
  • If your dog gets into trouble don’t go after it
    • If your dog goes into the water, over a cliff edge or gets stuck in mud, don't go after them. Move to a place your dog can reach safely and call them. If you're worried about your dog, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard. The RNLI treats stricken pets the same as it does humans, and will always launch to assist if they can.
  • Dogs should never be left alone in cars
    • Even just a few minutes in a hot car can prove fatal. On a 22C day, the temperature inside a car could rise by eleven degrees in just ten minutes and as dogs can’t cool down the same way as humans, the heat can quickly become dangerous. If you see a dog in distress, call 999.

Hannah Duerden, from the Dogs Trust education team, said: ‘Many dogs love to visit the beach, with the sea and the sand providing lots of enrichment and fun for them.

‘However, as RNLI stats show, dogs can get into trouble on trips to the coast, so it’s important to take some basic steps to keep them safe, including keeping them on their leads near cliff tops, ensuring they have access to shade and fresh water and making sure the sand is not too hot for them to walk on.

‘But keeping our dogs safe at the coast starts before you even leave home. Always check the weather forecast, and if it’s too warm, stay at home. Heat stroke makes dogs very poorly, and in some cases can prove fatal.’

Lewis Arnold, Lifeboat Coxswain at RNLI Newhaven Lifeboat Station said: ‘As a dog owner, I know how much people’s pets mean to them, so I understand what’s at stake when we are being called out to rescue a dog.

‘We will always launch the lifeboat if there is an animal in trouble on the coast, but there are a few things you can do to make sure it’s not yours that we are going to save.

‘Keep your dog on a lead when near cliff edges, harbour sides, or fast-flowing water, and if they do fall or enter the water unexpectedly don’t go in yourself. If you move to somewhere safe and call them, they will probably get out by themselves.

‘If you are worried about your dog, call 999 and ask for the coastguard – don’t go after them and put yourself in danger.’

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.