Posted on 10/8/2018

How to Have the Perfect Dog Friendly Topsail Island Vacation

How to Have the Perfect Dog Friendly Topsail Island Vacation | Ward Realty

UPDATE: This post was originally published on December 4, 2017.
It was refreshed with updated links and content on June 3, 2019. 

If you would like to enjoy a Topsail Island beach vacation with your favorite four-legged member of the family, this post is perfect for you. Let's be honest: no true family vacation is complete if you have to leave your dog at home. Thankfully, we have lots of great pet-friendly vacation homes available for your family getaway. With miles of pet-friendly beaches, you’ll find Topsail Island is a dog lovers paradise. Here is everything you need to know to plan your next Topsail Island vacation with your dog.

The Perfect Topsail Island Vacation Rental

With over 80 beautiful pet-friendly beach rentals to choose from, Ward Realty is your go-to place for a Topsail Island pet vacation. If this is your first time traveling with your dog and you have specific questions, please be sure to give us a call. Our friendly staff is here to guide you to your perfect Topsail Island vacation and that includes making sure your dog has a great experience as well. We can be reached at 910-328-3221.

Hitting the Road

Traveling with your dog in the car is a time-honored tradition. Nothing is better than packing up the minivan, loading up your furry family member and heading out on a great family vacation. Whether you're heading to Topsail Island this summer or looking forward to a late-season vacation at one of our beautiful vacation homes, there are a few things you'll need to remember when traveling with your dog in the car. Here are a few tips that will help make sure you arrive safely at your Topsail Island vacation.

Packing car for family vacation with dog | Ward Realty

Be Safe - While it isn't illegal in North Carolina, it is just common sense to make sure you don't drive with your dog on your lap. We all know the dangers of distracted driving and that also applies to being distracted by your dog. A dog wandering free in the car or near your steering wheel is an accident waiting to happen.

Heat Is Dangerous - We all know how beautiful a Carolina summer day is, but even in fall or spring, a car can rapidly heat up to extremely high temperatures within minutes. Even a short stop for gas can be dangerous.

Crates Are Great - Just like humans, it is important to keep your dog restrained in the vehicle. A great option is a travel crate or one of several commercially made harnesses specifically designed for dogs traveling in cars. Make sure to take your dog to the store to size the harness properly as the sizes vary and a good fit is important. Another advantage of a travel crate is it gives you another way to secure your dog while at your vacation home. Finally, it is never ok to travel with your dog in the back of a pickup bed without a crate.

Water and Stops - Many dogs are not fond of the car, and even those that are still need constant access to fresh water. Give your pup a water break at each pit stop! We like to use a plastic food storage container with a lid for both food and water. That way, you can close them up when you aren't using them and stuff won't spill everywhere. Plan your trip to allow for frequent stops to let your dog use the bathroom and stretch out. This is good for you, too!

Get Them Tired - Speaking of burning off excess energy, you'll find that a tired dog generally travels better. Take your pup for a long walk or throw the tennis ball around before you load up. The last thing you want is sixty pounds of boundless energy bouncing around the car.

Travel Check List

Packing up for vacation is a balancing act between packing too much and bringing too little. Here are just a few of the basics that you'll want to remember to pack if you are bringing your dog to Topsail Island:

  • Dog Food (vacation is not the time to try a new brand).
  • Favorite chew toy, or other toys. Dog waste bags.
  • Any medications, treats, andsnacks.
  • Grooming supplies
  • Favorite blanket or bed.
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped and/or has a dog collar with owner info.
  • Food and water dish.
  • Lead and leash.

Set Your Dog Up for Vacation Success

Once you arrive at your Topsail Island vacation rental you'll want to take a few steps to help your dog acclimate to his/her new surroundings. New adventures are fun for you but can be stressful for your dog. To prevent acting out or anxiety, follow these easy tips:;

  • Dogs are creatures of routine - Bring a familiar item like a stuffed animal, blanket or familiar toy.
  • Exercise your dog often allowing him/her to get expend any pent-up energy. This is especially important when you first arrive at a new destination.
  • Take your dog on a tour of your Topsail Island vacation home allowing him/her to become familiar with his/her surroundings. Be sure to look out for any unfamiliar or dangerous items that may harm your dog.
  • Talk to your dog in a normal voice as if you are at home. Dogs pick up on your tone; if they think you're worried they will worry. If they think you're relaxed they will relax.
  • Make sure to use familiar dog foods and treats. This isn't the time to try new things. Dog's stomachs can be very sensitive to sudden changes in diet.

A Day On the Beach With Your Dog

Dogs, like humans, love Topsail's beautiful beaches. However, enjoying our pristine beaches comes with added responsibility for those traveling with their dog. Here are a few things to keep in mind while vacationing on Topsail Island with your furry friend.

topsail island beach dog rules | ward realty

General Requirements

All dogs must have a current rabies vaccination tag. Additionally, each dog must have an identification tag. It's a good idea to bring a copy of his vaccination records. Collars get lost, tags come off. This way you are sure to have all the required informationon hand should you need it.

Leash Laws

All three municipalities on Topsail Island have slightly different leash laws, however, the essential thing you need to know is that all dogs must be on a leash while on the beach. Additionally, owners are subject to fines for violating the leash law. In Surf City the length of the leash cannot exceed 10 feet. On North Topsail, leashes cannot exceed 25 feet (retractable), and in the municipality of Topsail Beach, no dogs are allowed to be at-large within the town limits including the beach (dogs must be on a leash 20 ft or less from May 15th thru September 30th of each year.

Keeping the Beach Clean

Now that we have hit the beach, let's talk about cleaning up after your dog. Dog feces spread diseases and therefore it is critical to the health of our beaches that you clean up after your pets. Nothing is more disgusting than finding pet waste on our beach, so please be courteous to others and clean up after your pets.

Keep Them Safe

Remember to keep your dog safe by watching the waves and the riptides. Mother Nature doesn't discriminate and a riptide can be just as dangerous for your dog as for humans. Be aware and keep your dog at an appropriate depth of water (our leash law will help with that!). Finally, on hot days make sure to bring a gallon of water and portable bowl so your dog can stay hydrated.


Protect Our Ecosystem

Topsail Island is a beautiful place for dogs to explore. Salt marshes, beaches, and canals are all places most dogs love. However, these areas are also important and fragile ecosystems. Make sure you have control over your dog at all times. Dogs are curious and many love to dig. ALWAYS avoid Sea Turtle nests. A moment's inattention can be catastrophic to these fragile creatures. This also is important in areas where there are migratory birds. We know your dog is just trying to...well, be a dog, but we all have a responsibility to ensure we protect our beautiful island and that starts with responsible dog owners.

topsail island sea turtle nest | Ward Realty

Surf City Bark Park

Maybe your dog is just not a beach lover but still loves a little off-leash play time. If that's the case, head over to the centrally located Surf City Bark Park located at 201 Community Center Drive, Surf City, (behind the Surf City Community Center.) The dog park is open from dusk to dawn, water is available and the park features all sorts of cool obstacles your dog is sure to love. There is an area for small dogs and one for larger dogs. There are also some nice walking trails around the park. 

"Do you want a treat?"

Engage adorable head tilt! If you want to give your dog an extra special vacation surprise, head on over to Topsail Island's own Tiki Turtle's Ice Creams and Mocktails. Newly opened in 2019, they will give your dog a special treat and you can hang out in their lovely outdoor space. And yes, you will want to grab something for yourself, too. This place is delicious!! 

Located at 214 A2 North Topsail Drive in Surf City. 

Tiki Turtles Ice Creams and Mocktails | Ward Realty

Spa Day for Dogs

Right next door to Tiki Turtles you will find Salty Dog Grooming. Make an appointment while you are on the island, especially if your dog is covered in sand and salt from a week at the beach. Located at 214A N Topsail Dr in Surf City. 

Just In Case

Dogs tend to find trouble - it is just part of their nature. However, as a dog-loving destination, we have everything you need to take care of all your pet's emergencies.

Just in case your pup needs a little expert attention, here are some local clinics to help you out:

13775 NC-50, Suite 503
Surf City, NC 28445
P: (910) 329-4700


All Pets Animal Hospital

2024 NC-172
Sneads Ferry, NC 28460
P: (910) 327-1100

We hope this post encourages you to bring your favorite four-legged family member on your next Topsail Island Vacation. A great beach vacation is one where the whole family can enjoy everything Topsail Island has to offer. We have a long tradition of providing our clients with the premier pet-friendly vacation rentals on the market. So, come explore our pet-friendly vacation homes. We're sure we have just the vacation rental to suit your needs.



How to Have the Perfect Dog Friendly Topsail Island Vacation | Ward Realty

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