Can Fido Run Free at the Ocean?

Happy Young Golden Retriever.  Adorable Dog Running on the BeachThe BEACH! I didn’t know that dogs could go catch a wave in NC, yet it turns out there are a few dog-friendly a beaches! Most of them require pet owners to have a leash and be nearby, and their main issue concerns dog poop:

Owners are required to clean up after their pet while walking the beach. Violation of these pet regulations can result in a $250 fine for the first offense (up from just $25 in 2007)! It takes 4 weeks for animal waste (dog poop) to degrade, and that is more than enough time for bare-feet to accidentally step in it!

So, here is a list of NC beaches and their rules for when/where your dog can be off the leash:

1. Duck Beach ( is the only beach in North Carolina where dogs are allowed to run off-leash throughout the year.

2. Topsail Beach ( allows dogs on the beach throughout the year, though dogs must be on a leash from May 15 and September 30

3. Kitty Hawk ( requires dogs to be on a six-foot leash from 10 a.m and 6 p.m. between Memorial and Labor Day. Dogs may be taken off leash at all other times, so long as the animal stays under control and within 30 feet of its human guardian.

4. Kill Devil Hills (, leashed dogs may access the beach year-round, though between May 15 and September 15, dogs may only visit the beach between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. T

5. Sunset Beach ( allows leashed dogs on the beach at any time between Labor Day and the Friday before Memorial Day. During the summer months, leashed dogs may access the beach between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.

6. Holden Beach ( limits leashed dog access to the beach to the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. from May 20 to September 10, though leashed animals may visit the beach at anytime the remainder of the year.

7. Kure Beach ( and Wrightsville Beach ( allow leashed dogs on beaches from October through March.

8. Carolina Beach ( allows leashed dogs from November through February.

A few other things to keep in mind when bringing Fido to the beach:

  • beware of loose fishing line that may tangle up your pet when they are swimming in the surf
  • keep alert for rip-tide warnings and avoid areas with signs posted
  •  bring fresh water for your pet to drink as the salt water will make them extra thirsty
  • respect other beach-goers and keep your distance

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