Boating With Pets


Not everyone likes the water and not everyone is fond of boating - in the beginning. Tip #1 for boating with your pets is to allow them the time to get comfortable with the boat. Take your pets to the boat and let them explore on the deck. Let them roam and check out the area, including the cabin, if your boat has one. This may take more than one trip for some furry friends. Once they are excited about getting on the boat, it’s time to take the next step and get out on the open water. Keep in mind that if you have not already prepped your animals by starting the engines during the acclimation periods, this may create a whole new experience! 

Practice getting on and off your boat with your pet. Many might try to leap from dock to deck and vice versa. However, landing on a slippery deck or launching from one could prove to be very dangerous. In most cases, it is probably safer to carry or hold your pet while boarding or leaving the boat.

If your boat has a fiberglass or wooden deck, keep in mind that a pet’s paws may not have the same grip that your bare feet or boat shoes have. A nonskid deck may not be as nonskid for your pet as it is for you. Many deck boats have carpeting, which is perfect! Also, keep items such as fishing poles and gaffs stowed out of the way.

Regardless of whether your pet knows how to swim, a lifejacket is a great idea. Even if your pet is a strong swimmer, it’s not a bad idea to provide some extra help for your four-legged friend. Many pet life jackets today have built-in handles on the back making it far easier to lift your pet out of the water. Give your pet a chance to practice swimming in the life jacket before actually going out on the boat. Also, consider a bright colored life jacket for easier visibility.

That brings us to our next point - Pet Overboard! Have a plan in place with everyone aboard the boat. If your pet goes overboard, most likely everyone on board will want to help and having a plan will make the rescue less chaotic. Certainly, shut the engines off immediately and asses the situation. How close is your pet? Can you call your pet and are they able to swim to you? Now, you have purchased this wonderful life jacket with handles. Make sure you use the handles to lift your pet back on the boat. Never use the dog’s collar.

Most likely, you have a first aid kit on board for humans. Do you have something put together for your pet? RC Pet Products has a pet-specific first aid kit available for just $35. Dogs can take Dramamine and other remedies to combat seasickness. Please check with your vet before administering any over-the-counter drug to your pet.

Does your pet need sunscreen? Absolutely! Sunscreen should be applied to bellies and inside hind legs of dogs and even cats. Pet-friendly sunscreen is available. Doggles, Nutri-Vet and Vet’s Best all have solutions.

While we’re talking about the sun, make sure to keep your pet hydrated. They can become dehydrated as quickly as humans, if not quicker. 

Common sense always prevails. Pay attention to your pet’s location on the boat at all times. Protect them from areas of the boat that could be dangerous. Treat your pets like you treat your kids.

If you need help with prepping your boat for the season or for taking your pet on your next boating adventure, give us a call. We are not only boat lovers, but pet lovers too!