Charleston is outlined with beautiful beaches, many of which welcome dogs given owners abide by their rules and regulations. Below, find the specific requirements for Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach, and Edisto Beach along with tips on a successful trip to our shores.
Benefits of the Beach
Exercise on sand and in the water can be great physical therapy for increasing strength, mobility, and endurance while helping overweight pets shed extra pounds. The beach also provides excellent socialization opportunities to interact with other dogs, people, kids, and nature. Best of all, a plan to walk on the beach with your pet can be a great motivator for owners to get outside and moving for their own well-being.
Summer in the south can be scorching. Beach play is best limited to mild off-season days or mornings/evenings outside the most intense heat of the day.
Always bring fresh water for your dog to drink and monitor their consumption of sea water. Ingestion of salty ocean water can lead to a condition called hypernatremia causing vomiting, diarrhea, ataxia (staggering/stumbling), altered mentation (confusion), seizures, coma, or death. In a 40 pound dog, less than 2 cups of salt water is toxic.
Play fetch in the waves with caution. Inhalation of sea water can lead to aspiration pneumonia indicated by lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, and labored breathing.
Watch out for oysters and fish hooks! These sharp objects harbor bacteria and can do a number on paw pads and cheek flaps. Cuts should be flushed promptly and may require a visit to the vet for sutures and antibiotics.
With these precautions in mind, use the below guide for information on beach visiting dates, times, and required permits.
Isle of Palms
April 1 - September 14 between 5am-9am: off leash (under voice command)
September 15 - March 31 between 4pm-10am: off leash (under voice command)
All other times: on leash and under complete control (including in the water)
IOP residents are required to get an annual permit providing current proof of rabies vaccine and a $5 fee. Permits are issued through the Isle of Palms Police Department (30 J.C. Long Blvd)
May 1 - September 30: off leash 5am-10am, no dogs 10am-6pm, on leash 6pm-5am
October 1 - April 30: off leash 5am-12pm, on leash 12pm-5am
Sullivan’s Island permits are required for residents ($25) and visitors ($50), indicated by a tag/collar to be worn at all times on the island.
The permit application requires a rabies vaccination certificate (official signed copy provided by a veterinarian), valid driver’s license, notarized Affidavit of Fact that your dog has no history of aggressive behavior and proof insurance against potential bites.
Applications are to be submitted to Town Hall (2056 Middle St) where notaries are available. Town Hall hours are 8am-5pm Monday-Friday. Applications via mail require an additional $5 fee.
May 1 - September 30: on leash 6pm-10am, no dogs 10am-6pm
October 1 - April: on leash throughout the day
None required. Leash laws are enforced and tickets can be issued up to $500.
May 1 - October 31: on leash throughout the day
November 1 - April 30: off leash throughout the day