Dog beaches are a relatively new phenomenon in Michigan. This is mostly due to the common misconception that dogs should stay away from water, which is not true for most breeds of dog. Dog owners can find opportunities to take their furry friends swimming at these designated areas on public beaches or lakes throughout the state!

Michigan Dog Beach Frequently Asked Questions

What are the rules at Michigan dog beaches?

Make sure you check the rules of the beach before taking your dog there. Here are some of the most common rules at Michigan dog beaches:

  • Dogs are not allowed to swim outside of the Memorial Day – Labor Day summer season for risk of hypothermia.
  • Dogs must have their vaccinations up to date

Do dogs have to be on a leash while on the parking lot?

Dogs must be within 50 feet of owner while in the water and cannot harass wildlife. For a complete list of dog beach rules, you can check the website of the specific dog beach that you will be going to.

Can my dog get Lyme disease from tick bites at the beach?

Yes. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by tick bites. As ticks are very prevalent along Michigan dunes and natural areas, it’s important to make sure your dog doesn’t have too many of them on his/her body. When going to the beach with your dog, check him/her thoroughly for ticks before entering the water and look again after he/she is done playing in the water. It is very important to remove ticks as soon as possible since they can transmit Lyme and other tick-borne diseases (e.g., ehrlichiosis) if left untreated for a long period of time.

Where should I park?

Most dog beaches have designated dog-beach parking areas. Try to locate these parking lots before driving to the dog beach. If you have to park on residential streets, be sure to look for No Parking signs and other signs detailing when you can and cannot park along the street to avoid getting a ticket.

Can I bring my kids?

Although it is generally allowed to bring kids with you, we recommend that you keep them at a distance from where dogs are playing in the water. Unfortunately, some dogs that are at a dog beach may not vaccinated against diseases which can harm humans (e.g., rabies). Also, dogs that are playing in the water may not be able to recognize at first that your child is different from an object or another dog. If your child gets into the water, there is a chance he/she can get hurt by colliding with other dogs which are much larger than him/her.

What hazards should I look for?

Before you take your dog to the beach, make sure that there is no hazardous debris in the water. This can include items such as:

  • Barbed wire or fishing line
  • Nails and screws (from old docks and boats)
  • Tires and plastic bags (which can easily block a dog’s airways when swallowed) Many of these items are not easily seen by the naked eye, so it is very important that you check the water before allowing your dog in.

What if my dog eats a harmful substance?

If someone near you spots a dog eating something hazardous, quickly assess whether or not he/she has swallowed enough of the substance to harm him/her. If you think your dog ate something hazardous, and you can see it in his/her mouth (e.g., a small hook), remove the object with gloves on if possible. Call your veterinarian immediately to ask for advice regarding how much of the substance might have been ingested and what to do.