Here's a rule that only applies to dog beaches: They are all clothing optional.

So if you're one of the rare owners that dress up your dog, designers have options for your beach-bound hound.

From bikinis to surf trunks, clothing makers have found a niche to sell garb for the pampered pooch that has almost everything.

Tommy Bahama Pets offers a Hawaiian shirt and a dress with a ruffled skirt made with the brand's traditional hibiscus fabric. Designer John Bartlett makes a canine beach tank top. And Martha Stewart Inc. produces a practical life jacket to give surfing and boating dogs a boost in the water.

In addition to floral bikinis and colorful swim trunks, pet retailers sell wet suits, visors, sunglasses and Doggles (think: goggles for dogs).

While the fashions might be fun they aren't very practical, said Dr. Brittany King of Banfield Pet Hospital in Houston.

"I'm a big swimmer and so is my dog, Hank," she said. "While he has his fair share of doggie-friendly swim trunks, they are simply meant for fashion - not function."

Practical beachgoers should do their dog a favor and put sunscreen on furless areas, bring fresh water, treats, a towel and an umbrella for shade. And don't forget your own swimsuit.


Colorado 'Swimming holes'

Dress your dog in a pair of swim trunks and check out these parks with water features:

- Union Reservoir Dog Beach, Longmont - The designated area is leash-free and allows access to the 736-acre reservoir. So your pooch can swim and splash to its heart's content.

- Durango Dog Park - This leash-free, 5-acre space is near the Animas River, where you can play in the water or watch rafters while you stretch your legs after a long drive.

- Bear Creek Dog Park, Colorado Springs - Improvements to the 25-acre, leash-free park include a couple of "swimming holes" thanks to county erosion prevention and widening on a half-mile stretch of Bear Creek.

Joe Paisley, The Gazette