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Are Dogs Allowed on Virginia Beach? 2023 Guide & Tips

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

Jack Russell stands on the golden sand of a sandy beach

The rules regarding dogs in Virginia Beach are a bit complicated. Compared to other beaches, Virginia Beach is pretty dog-friendly, and assuming you come at the right time of year, you can have fun with your dog on the beach. However, dogs are not allowed everywhere. It’s essential to know the rules before traveling.

Before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, dogs are allowed on all public beaches and in the boardwalk areas. However, in the summer months, things are a bit different.

“Summer” is defined as before Memorial Day and through Labor Day weekend. During this time, dogs are restricted. Dogs can frolic on the northern end of the beach above 42nd Street. They may also travel on the southern end of the beach in the Sandbridge Area. However, they are only allowed in these areas between 6 AM and 10 AM.

Dogs are allowed on the Boardwalk from 6 AM to 10 AM only.

During this time, the dog must be on a leash, and anything they leave behind must be cleaned up. You may let your dog off-leash only if they have a reliable recall. You are responsible for any damage that your dog does during this time. It is essential that your dog is under control and does not bother other beachgoers.

There are many pet-friendly accommodations along the beach. However, the accommodation policies do not change the beach laws. Just because a hotel allows your dog to bed with you doesn’t mean your dog can walk on the beach outside the allowed periods.

Many of the regulations above have been in place for years. Therefore, take any news that these regulations have changed with a pinch of salt. There are often clickbait articles each year claiming that these regulations have changed—only to “announce” the same regulations again.

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Are Dogs Allowed on the Beach in Norfolk VA?

It depends on the season. During the off-season, dogs are allowed on the beach at any time. If you want to visit the area with your dog, this is the best time to do it. Dogs are only regulated by some simple laws during this time, such as remaining in control and having their feces removed properly. Therefore, this period seems to be the best time to visit your canine.

During the on-season, when dogs are allowed on the beach is restricted. Dogs can visit the very far north part of the beach or the very far south part. However, dogs may only be present before 10 AM and 6 PM. Between these hours, it is unlawful to have dogs on the beach.

Furthermore, dogs must be on a leash constantly, no matter the season. The leash must be 8 feet or less, and the owner must remain in control of the leash at all times.

Where and when dogs are allowed on the beach varies depending on where you are. Therefore, be sure to research this year’s laws for the part of the beach you’re visiting. If you plan on visiting the area with your canine, you may want to do some research before you decide where to stay. After all, during the peak season, some parts of the beach are never open to dogs.

Norfolk Beach Virginia
Image Credit: Troy Cooper, Pixabay

Are Dogs Allowed on Virginia Beach Boardwalk?

Yes. Dogs are allowed on the Virginia Beach boardwalk during certain periods. Dogs aren’t allowed all the time, and the times they are allowed vary depending on the season.

Before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, dogs are allowed on the boardwalk anytime. This is the “off-season,” so many of the usual restrictions against dogs do not apply. However, during the summer months, dogs are only allowed on the boardwalk and Atlantic Avenue between 6 AM and 10 AM.

If you want to take your dog to the boardwalk, we recommend going during the spring, fall, or winter. There is a very short period they are allowed to visit during the summer. However, this period is so short that it is difficult to take advantage of.

Why Are Dogs Not Allowed on Beaches?

During the summer months, dogs are prohibited in Virginia Beach except during specific periods. This is for many reasons that involve the safety of your pup and other beachgoers. During this period, it is simply very crowded at the beach. Therefore, even very docile dogs may accidentally injure someone. There isn’t much room for them to run, and an excited pooch could easily make a mistake.

The laws are in place to protect you from potential legal action due to the heavy crowding at the beach.

Furthermore, beaches aren’t particularly dog-friendly during the summer months. While there is always some danger when taking your dog to the beach, the heat from the sand makes it particularly dangerous during the summer months. Therefore, it is usually a good idea to avoid taking your dog to the beach during these periods—even if you are allowed to.

These laws also protect certain bird species, which are often more sensitive to canines during the spring and summer. Prohibiting dogs from approaching the bids during the summer can allow them to take a break, protecting species that may be in danger.

Ignorance of waste disposal is another common reason dogs are banned from certain beaches in Virginia. While it is unpleasant for anyone else who comes across the waste, this isn’t the primary reason that dogs are banned. The water can get washed into the ocean. When in high enough concentration, this may increase the risk of diseases for both wildlife and people.

Therefore, dogs are banned during the busiest months to prevent countless dogs from taking to the beach and lowering water quality.

No Dog allowed Beach
Image Credit: Richard Revel, Pixabay

Should I Take My Dog to the Beach?

There are many reasons why you may want to take your dog to the beach—but it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The salt from the water and heat from the sun can wreak havoc on many dogs. The hot sun and salt have a drying effect. Many dogs may crack their paw pads and develop skin problems after beach visits.

Furthermore, most dogs will drink saltwater—even if they don’t mean to. Therefore, the salt can accumulate in your dog’s intestines, leading to “beach diarrhea.” Sometimes, this can be severe. Symptoms often include drooling, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and nausea. Luckily, vet care isn’t usually required, but it may be for dogs that become dehydrated.

Excessive saltwater consumption can also lead to hypernatremia, which occurs when a dog’s sodium levels are too high. This condition is much more serious and can lead to seizures and death without treatment.

Dogs with shorter hair can get sunburned—just like humans. Dogs cannot use human sunscreen, as it is toxic for most dogs. Therefore, you’ll have to get a formula specifically formulated for dogs and regularly reapply it when your dog is at the beach.

Rip currents and tides can cause all sorts of problems for dogs, as well. Dogs don’t understand how to swim with the current, which can cause them to tire easily. Your dog is also an easy target for sea lice and jellyfish. Rinsing your dog after a dip in the ocean is recommended.

Dogs can easily overheat at the beach, even when in the water. Of course, this makes taking your dog to the beach more dangerous when it is hotter. However, many dogs tend to overdo it at the beach anyway. Therefore, even in cooler weather, dogs can develop heat stroke.

Sand can irritate dogs, even if they don’t enter the water. It can get stuck in their eye and irritate them. In this case, you may have to flush your dog’s eye with clean water. Vet care may be needed, as sand can cause ulcers on the cornea.

You’ll also have to prevent your dog from eating things they aren’t supposed to. Some dogs will attempt to consume shells, starfish, beached fish, stones, and other debris. Of course, these are not edible and can cause intestinal obstructions, poisoning, and other problems.

a dog walked by its owner on a beach
Image Credit: Juice Verve, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

During the spring, winter, and fall, dogs are allowed on Virginia Beach with very little regulation. The dog must stay under the owner’s control at all times, and their waste must be cleaned up. However, beyond that, there are few regulations during this time.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there are more restrictions in place. During this time, no dogs are allowed on the beach between Rudee Loop and 42nd Street. Unleashed dogs may visit beaches north of 42nd Street between 10 AM and after 6 PM. Of course, waste pickup laws remain in place during the summer, as well.

Leashed dogs can also visit the boardwalk and Atlantic Avenue between 6 AM and 10 AM. Dogs must be leashed in this area at all times.

Of course, service dogs are exempt from any restrictions, assuming they are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Featured Image Credit: Larina Marina, Shutterstock

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