Our picturesque Garden Route is arguably one of the world’s most amazing places to visit. Apart from the numerous very obvious reasons (no, really, how many places can boast so many excellent beaches, untamed forests and fynbos-clad sand dunes just minutes’ drive away from each other), we are remarkably dog-friendly.

So, if you are a holidaymaker and have left your fur baby somewhere up north in the kennels, welcome! And you will have to make a mental note to let him or her tag along next year. Our towns are brimming with dog-friendly places to stay, dog-friendly places to eat, and well-marked, long, dog-friendly beaches to enjoy. You only need to search for pet-friendly accommodation on Google or at our information centres to realise that there are just too many to name them all. Many of our favourite restaurant owners are animal lovers themselves, so your pooch will not feel unwelcome.

Look out for Blue flag beaches, where dogs are allowed. Around Knysna, these include Brenton-on-Sea, Bollards Bay beach on Leisure Isle and Buffalo Bay. At Brenton, the pet-friendly zone is 300 metres west of the second lifesaving flag. During peak season, dog walking is restricted to before 9:00 and after 17:00. Buffalo Bay’s dog walking zone starts east of the last beach residence. Normal access routes can be used to reach both Brenton and Buffalo Bay’s beaches. On Buffalo Bay, it is requested that dogs stay on the leash at all times, mainly to protect the African Black Oystercathers and white-fronted plovers which breed there.

At Leisure Isle, dogs are allowed to splash and have fun in the lovely shallow water, off the leash.

Sedgefield has a good long stretch of beautiful beach all the way from Myoli beach to Cola and towards Platbank. At Myoli beach itself, dogs need to be on a leash.

Swartvlei from Gericke’s Point up to Myoli is a no dog zone.

Wilderness beach is sectioned off into a green, a yellow and a red zone, which symbolise these stretches’ dog-friendly status.

Check out these well marked beach maps from Sanparks, clearly indicating Sedgefield and Wilderness’ zones.

Sedgefield Maps.pdf
Wilderness Maps.pdf

To keep our beaches sustainably dog-friendly, there are some simple, common-sense rules to adhere to. These are outlined on large boards at the beaches’ access points. Stick with them and your dogs may soon start to call themselves locals!

Some common reasons for pets being spoiled with a vet visit during holiday time include swallowing fish hooks, beach fights, over-indulging on salty seawater, allergies, snake bites, baboon attacks, or even just to see their favourite vet for a vaccination.

Cat biliary is a common condition seen along the Southern Cape. Watch out for loss of appetite, her just being “not herself”, and pale gums. The diagnosis is quick: the tiny parasites can be seen on a blood-smear.

Then there are also the “festive” emergencies. Pets unwrapping Christmas presents under the tree and eating a whole box of dark chocolate, greasy left-overs being stolen from a plate causing acute pancreatitis, over-indulgence with resultant gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), big marrow bones getting stuck in throats, panic attacks (pets and owners alike)

So, do take it easy this festive season. May you see the beauty in enjoying the simplicity of nature, like only a man’s best friend can do. And if you do need to visit during this time, may you feel welcome, and rest assured that your pet is in the best of hands.