Safely Boating With Your Pet

Four-legged companions are the best boat-going crewmates one could ask for. They enjoy the ride, don’t talk back, do what they are told and shower you with affection. Not only that they take up little space and don’t eat all of your hot dogs and potato salad. These furry crewmates, which most often are dogs, also include cats, birds and other creatures are often times a big part of a great boating experience.

Your pet might not immediately take to the water, but with patience and a little training most grow to love outings on the boat. You will want to be sure that your dog is comfortable in the water before you introduce him or her to the boat. Cats, we know hate water, so you’d better off just skipping that part and going straight to the boat. Allow your pet to become familiar with the boat and give him or her time to explore it on her own terms. Once your pet is comfortable, you can being introducing the sound of the engine. Once your pet is comfortable with the sounds of the engine and the horn, you’re ready to take a short spin.

On your spin, it may be better to harness or leash your pet. The waves and the motion of the boat could cause your pet to slip on the deck and hurt himself or herself and could fall overboard. Even if your pet is a good swimmer an unexpected plunge into the water could cause him or her to panic.

If your pet is anxious even after several short boat trips, it is probably better to leave him or her at home. The stress for both you and her can make your boating trip miserable.

Don’t be surprised if your pet gets seasick, just like people, they have to adjust to the motion of the boat on the water. You may have to get a prescription from your veterinarian if seasickness is a continual problem. Over time, extend your outings and soon your pet will be enjoying the wind and waves as much as you do.

You will need some essential safety gear to take with you though:

  • Life Jacket/Flotation Device – while many pets are good swimmers, they can very easily become tired and need to rest – the life jacket also makes it easier to pull your pet back into the boat should he or she go overboard. Need more reasons to get a life jacket, read this!
  • First Aid Kit – accidents do happen and its important to be prepared – Find out how to prepare a pet first aid kit.
  • Potty Pads/Litter Box – if you won’t be seeing land for awhile, keep some potty pads or a litter box available should your pet hear the call of nature.
  • Food/Water – provide your pet with clean food and water, especially in warm temperatures.
  • Water Toys – if your pet loves to swim, take some water toys along for a waggin’ good time.
  • Ramp or Platform to help your pet get easily in and out of the boat from the water, such as a Paws Aboard Doggy Boat Ramp.

Now get out there and have a great adventure. Happy sailing!

A life jacket, for my dog??

I know if the weather is like it is here, most of you are shivering in your boots. So why not talk about some summer fun? I’m sure most of you enjoy a weekend camping trip to the lake with boating, swimming and fishing. Plus, I know you take your dog along with you!

Dogs are natural swimmers, right? They don’t need a life jacket. Well, in some cases dogs are excellent swimmers, in others, not so much. A smaller dog tires more easily and is more likely to get pulled under by a good size wave either from the wind or a boat wake. Also, dogs with very little body fat, such as Whippets, Dobermans, Boxers and Chihuahuas have a hard time staying afloat and regulating body temperature.

A doggie life jacket not only helps your dog stay afloat, it allows him to enjoy the water without having to constantly “doggie-paddle.” Most jackets provide extra buoyancy at the chest area to help keep your dog’s head out of the water. Many jackets also have a handle on the top to help easily retrieve your dog from the water should he happen to get excited and jump out of the boat. The jacket also provides an extra layer of insulation to protect your dog should the water be cold.

There are many different varieties and types of dog life jackets available, and there are no set sizing guidelines, so be sure to measure your dog and try one out before you buy it! Be sure that it fits snugly, but not too tight and that when you lift him by the handle, he won’t fall out of the jacket. (Just think of a wet dog panicking in the water and you will understand why this is important!)

Are you thinking about a trip to the lake and have spring fever now? Just a few more months and you and your dog will be out enjoying the lake on your first camping trip of the year!