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Keeping Pets Safe On Boats


Whether it’s a boat, lake, ocean or pool, you can’t automatically assume your dogs and cats will take to life on the sea. Pets like firm, stable surfaces – and water does not a firm surface make… So before you plan your next water outing, be sure that you and your pet know what to expect. Here are a few tips to prepare your pet for day on the boat:

Make sure your pet is familiar with the concept of boating.

Don’t assume your pet will automatically take to boating. Most dogs and cats like firm, stable surfaces, and a boat can be anything but stable. Before you plan an outing with your pet, get the animal on board and turn on the engine to see if the sound disturbs it. Some pets couldn’t care less, but others make themselves sick with worry at the loud noises. Take short trips at first to let your pet get acclimated to the pitch and roll of boating. Remember, if you can get seasick, so can your pets.

Water Safety

Be sure your pet is wearing a Personal Lifesaver Device (PFD) if they have never been on the water (and in most cases, even if they are familiar with water). You can’t be too safe! This is particularly important when dealing with ocean sports such as surfing or paddle boarding. Your dog can easily get away from you and may not make it back to that beach as they often have problems negotiating distance in the ocean. Make sure you have an appropriately size life jacket for your dog or cat, especially if they plan on entering the water.

Contrary to popular belief, not all animals naturally know how to swim, and some breeds can’t do it at all (Here is a list of Dogs that can’t Swim and Some that just aren’t very good at it). Our favorite PFDs include the Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Dog Lifejacket and Coat and the Ruffwear K9 Float Coat Dog Life Jacket

But we recently found another way to keep your pets safe on boats and in the water that we love – most impressively, it keeps your dog’s head out of the water in case they pass out! Check out the new WaterCollar – A PFD for Dogs.

Store Fishing Tackle Away from Pets

Make sure there are no hazardous or dangerous materials within your pet’s reach. Nosy pets in a fishing tackle can spell disaster! Keep hooks safely stored and out of the way. Fishing line can cause a host of problems if your pet consumes it, and always results in an expensive trip to the veterinarian. Make sure your fishing tackle is stored safely away.

Sun Protection

When you’re on the lake or at sea, the reflection from the sun can cause a lot more damage than normal. Helping your pet grow accustomed to wearing a few of these things will take some time, so start ahead of time and get them used to it before you put them on the boat.

Some items your pet will need to avoid sun damage include:

  •         Hats: Find a specialized visor or brimmed cap to help your pet cope with the heat.
  • Sunglasses: Specialized sunglasses, such as Doggles, are important in protecting your pet’s eyes from the bright sunlight — if your pet will wear them, that is
  • Sun block: Sunscreen for your pets is a must-have, but use only a specialized pet brand as “human sunscreen” can wreak havoc on your pets skin and internal organs. Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets is one of our favorites – it’s safe, nontoxic and protects your pet very well.

Dangers of Dehydration and Heatstroke

Be very mindful of your pet on hot, sunny days – particularly on boats. Too much time in the sun and heat can cause problems such as sunstroke, cramps, and heat exhaustion. If your pet is stressed, you need to make certain (s)he is drinking enough water because they may not do so on their own.

Always take plenty of water for your pet. Dogs regulate body heat through panting, and while doing so, they lose large amounts of fluids. It is imperative to keep them hydrated. Excessive panting and drooling, and abnormally rapid pulse, are just a few of the danger signs that you pet is overheating. Here are other signs that signify heatstroke in pets. Check out these easy to print Heat Related Pet Resources that explain how to provide CPR to your pet and how to identify dehydration in your pets.

Provide Shade

Find or create a shaded area on your boat where your pet can take shelter. Hopefully, there will be air movement to aid in cooling them down. Wetting their coats with fresh water can help them feel better. If you haven’t seen the new QuikShade Beds for Pets, do you and your dog a favor and check them out. They provide a perfect shade solution anywhere, anytime.


Protect their pads

Dogs and cats absorb cold and heat through their pads, and can be burned by a boat’s hot fiberglass and vinyl surfaces. You may want to purchase a set of custom pad protectors or have a set of doggy boots on board in case you see damage beginning.

One of our favorite items is Power Paws Socks, which stay on easily, are rarely even noticed by your pets, and afford extra non-slip traction for those slippery boat surfaces.

Boating Pet Regulations

Remember to check regulations in advance if you plan to venture to foreign ports with your pet. Many places have quarantine/health laws that apply to “foreign” animals. If you live near an international border, this is particularly important as your pets may not be allowed into other countries.

Each state has their own set of rules in place, and you will also be held to the rules that govern a particular county. In addition, you’ll need to check out the national forest regulations for any special requirements.

For detailed information about water border crossing and very detailed information on boating with pets, check out this informative article: Pets Ahoy! Boating with Pets

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