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Dogs & Holidays

Ready to take your dog on holiday?

We hope you don't need us on your holiday - but rest assured that we're here if you do

Caring for your dog on holiday

Over the years we’ve noticed a pattern of illnesses and injuries which dogs holidaying in Cornwall can be susceptible to.

With this in mind, here’s a brief guide to avoiding some of the more common of these.

Vomiting & Diarrhoea

Drinking water from the sea, scavenging and a change of diet (different dog food/extra treats/human food titbits) can all wreak havoc with your dog’s digestion when you’re on holiday.

Seawater in particular tends to go right through dogs, so we advise you prevent your dog from drinking any at all if possible. Instead, encourage your dog to drink fresh water. Remember that streams and puddles may also be contaminated.

We also advise that you stick to your dog’s usual diet as far as possible when on holiday. If your dog has a tendency to scavenge and a sensitive digestion, it may be worth investing in a basket muzzle to prevent this, particularly when exploring a popular destination such as Padstow where there may be a lot of dropped food and it can be difficult to keep an eye on what your dog is up to when you’re walking along busy streets.

Sand Impaction

If dogs swallow too much sand whilst playing on the beach, this can cause a build-up of sand to occur in the stomach and intestines which may act as a blockage and/or irritant to the gastro-intestinal tract.

Vomiting and diarrhoea, often containing sand, can give us a clue to the cause of illness and sometimes it’s possible to feel sand crunching within the stomach when we examine the abdomen of an affected dog.

Treatment can include intravenous fluid therapy to prevent dehydration and liquid paraffin to ease the passage of sand through the intestines.

Prevention is always better than cure, so we recommend if you throw a ball for your dog on the beach, that you avoid the dry sand altogether and choose the wet, compacted sand for your game instead, since this is much less likely to stick to the ball.

Also bear in mind how long you play for, since it’s inevitable your dog will swallow some sand from the ball even if you do take this precaution.

Dog Bite Injury

Some beaches and other popular dog-walking destinations can become a little busy at times during the holiday season.

Where there are a lot of dogs interacting with each other and excitement levels are running high, it’s possible that some dogs might become carried away and get into a scuffle. Occasionally this can result in a bite injury.

If your dog is unlucky enough to get bitten, we advise that you bring him/her in for an examination if the skin has been broken, because this can sometimes result in an infection/abscess if left untreated.


If your dog does a lot more exercise on holiday than he would in his day to day life at home, this increase could unveil underlying joint issues or perhaps cause a strain injury.

We advise that you try to build up the amount of exercise your dog is doing gradually, and restrict how much offlead play he/she has at first to allow adjustment.

Also bear in mind that older, arthritic dogs might seize up a bit following a long car journey.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a syndrome for which there are several possible viruses and bacterial strains responsible, including canine parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica.

Where there are a lot of dogs, potentially from all across the UK, interacting with each other and drinking from shared water sources (e.g. communal dog bowls in a pub garden), the risk of a dog contracting kennel cough is higher.

Symptoms range from sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes to the classic harsh dry cough, a high temperature and refusal of food.

We advise kennel cough vaccination, which isn’t 100% protective against all strains but gives your dog a much better chance of a mild form and a quick recovery if he/she is unlucky enough to pick it up.

Avoiding shared water bowls is sensible – taking a container with you that can be replenished when you stop for refreshments is a good alternative.


When we are fortunate enough to have hot weather in Cornwall, this can be a bit much for our canine companions, particularly those with a dark or thick coat, those with a short face such as pugs and bulldogs (brachycephalic breeds) and any with a heart or lung condition.

As always, the rule is to never leave your dog unattended in a car, even for a very short length of time. When on the beach it’s advisable to provide shade for your dog to lie in, encourage him/her to cool down in the sea and with regular drinks of fresh water.

Look out for warning signs of excessive panting and distress and if in doubt, it’s worth going inside so your dog can recover in a cool room.

Snake Bites

Adders will frequently bask in sand dunes (Perranporth, Crantock, etc.) and may even be found on footpaths.

Keeping your dog close by you, rather than allowing him/her to run off through the dunes exploring, can be prudent, particularly in warm, sunny weather.

If you do suspect that your dog may have been bitten by a snake (yelp of pain, sudden lameness, swelling of limb or face, sighting of a snake) then it is best to seek veterinary attention without delay.

In severe cases, it may be necessary to administer fluid therapy and anti-venom, but pain killers and antibiotics are usually required, even when there isn’t a huge amount of swelling.

Torn Claws

Running across rocks on the beach is an easy way for your dog to tear a claw. This is a minor but very painful injury when it exposes the quick.

Keeping your dog’s claws trimmed will reduce the risk of this happening.

Cliff Falls

We are fortunate to have miles and miles of beautiful cliff walks along our coastline. However, in places the cliffs are steep with a sharp drop down to the beach or rocks below and so can be treacherous for the unwary.

Young and excitable dogs in particular may be at risk of a fall, particularly if following a scent through cliff-side undergrowth or chasing a bird for example, and thus being unaware of their surroundings.

To avoid a potentially tragic accident, we advise being aware of where the sheer cliff edges are and keeping your dog on a lead during these stretches, or anywhere you may be in doubt.

Potential injuries range from bruising through to fractured limbs, pneumothorax (burst lung) and of course fatality, depending on the height of a fall sustained.

Dog Friendly Cornwall - Useful Links

Please be aware that Penmellyn Veterinary Group are happy to share the contact details of Dog Friendly Holiday Locations below, but we have not inspected the facilities

Beach Retreats
Huge sandy beaches, miles of rugged coastal paths and loads of dog friendly cafes and restaurants. Dog friendly holidays were made for Cornwall. That’s why at Beach Retreats we offer dog friendly holidays; over half of our holiday cottages are dog friendly. We welcome well behaved dogs at Beach Retreats and love to see them enjoying their holiday as much as you.

Millie's Guide to Dog Friendly Cornwall
I am Millie, a young Jack Russell, Cornish born and bred, who is lucky enough to live in Cornwall. I didn’t have the best start, but was rescued and given a new home by my present owners. I now get the chance to explore Cornwall and have set out some of my favourite dog friendly places in Cornwall including days out and walks with dogs, dog friendly beaches in Cornwall, places to eat with dogs and dog friendly accommodation in Cornwall.

Cornish Horizons
Cornish Horizons have over 250 hand-picked dog friendly cottages in stunning locations throughout Cornwall in popular locations including Padstow, St Ives, Fowey and Looe – after all, dogs deserve a holiday too!

Wood's Cafe
We are a family run independent cafe in the middle of the beautiful Cardinham Woods, Bodmin, Cornwall. We are passionate about serving delicious, home made food using fresh and local ingredients.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan
200 acres of garden history, mystery and romance. 25 years ago, Heligan’s historic gardens were unknown and unseen, lost under a tangle of weeds. It was only the chance discovery of a door in the ruins that led to the restoration of this once great estate. Today, The Lost Gardens have been put back where they belong; in pride of place among the finest gardens in Cornwall.

River Valley Holiday Park
Welcome to River Valley Holiday Park Come as a guest, leave as a friend… You’ll find River Valley Holiday Park on the banks of River Winnick, just minutes from the golden beach at Pentewan. Here campers and caravanners can enjoy the delights of Cornwall without compromise: you’ll find our family-run haven has more than enough luxuries, including a swimming pool!

Darwin Escapes
No one likes leaving their pets at home when they go on holiday, but we have taken that into account. With no compromise on quality you can enjoy a well deserved holiday in Cornwall and your pets are invited too! So, if you are looking for pet friendly holiday & caravan parks in Cornwall, then look no further than Darwin Escapes.

Wheal Martyn
Discover working waterwheels, modern mining in action, vintage trucks and a train at Cornwall’s china clay museum. Enjoy your day out as a family come rain or shine, there’s plenty to do indoors and outdoors at Wheal Martyn. Explore Cornwall’s unique mining history and uncover stories behind this billion pound industry.

Pencarrow house and gardens is the perfect place for a relaxing, interesting group visit. As well as our public tours of the house, we can accommodate coaches and large groups for a guided tour of the house, finished off with a delicious cream tea or buffet lunch.

Higher Hendra Park
A quiet and relaxing caravan site in the tranquil countryside of Cornwall. Our caravan site is Caravan Club approved, and is located in the quiet lanes near Perranporth, Cornwall.