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Traveling With Pets | PetsWeekly

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ruff-life-boatDog overboard!” I heard the dreadful splash just seconds after our small dog slipped from the boat into the ocean below.

Rushing to the rail, I saw our tiny pug furiously doggie-paddling in the dark, cold sea. Kiang was struggling to reach the pier, but the frigid Pacific waters were quickly slowing him down and, despite the warm sun overhead, he was already shivering.

Suddenly, a large green fishing net surged through the water, scooping the tired pup from the sea in a frenzy of splashing and kicking.  Luckily we were still docked, and the sea was not quite as frigid on this sunny day.  Had it been winter, or in the open ocean, our pet may not have fared as well.

When we first thought about taking our pets along for a summer of cruising the Pacific Northwest, it was with little trepidation.  We dreamt of watching our dogs chase seagulls through the early morning surf and seeing our favorite feline vigilantly standing guard on the bow, surveying the whales that surfaced near our yacht at sunset. It didn’t take long to understand that the reality of cruising with pets is much different than these sweet daydreams; but with preparation, planning and a lot of patience, we were able to make the dream a reality.

Ahoy, Mate!

dog on boat

Introduce your pets slowly to a life at sea. We began with short rides in the dinghy. Our thinking was if they could handle a dinghy; they would be fine on a large boat. As it turns out, our dogs don’t like short rides in dinghies, preferring the yacht instead.

Each pet is different. If you find that your pet is susceptible to seasickness, consult your veterinarian before leaving the dock.

The cats of several cruising friends exhibit symptoms such as excessive drooling, while our dogs tend to vomit in high seas. There are many options available for treating seasickness in pets, from over-the-counter treatments like Dramamine to prescription medications.

Check with your veterinarian before administering anything to your pets. Keeping your pets restrained near the center of the boat where there is less motion while underway will also help. Finally, be sure to thoroughly examine your pet’s health prior to leaving. You should obtain blood work and a stool sample analysis to check for heartworm and other parasites, and since you could be going to an area that is ripe with these issues, put your pet on heartworm medication prior to leaving.  It only needs to be administered once per month and it could save your pets life.

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