If you plan to go out to sea and take your dog along, keep in mind pets are just as vulnerable as young children. They are susceptible to sea sickness, sunburn, the effects of sun exposure including sunburn and heat stroke, and falling overboard and drowning. Think safety first if you’re bringing your dog along.
Plan for Comfort
Gayle Martz and Delilah Smittle, authors of “No Pet Left Behind: The Sherpa Guide to Traveling with Your Best Friend,” recommend you think about your dog’s comfort when boating. They suggest bringing items such as a towel for the dog, a dog-sized shirt or jacket that’s water-resistant, lots of bottled water, and a pooper scooper or potty pads for extended trips when you’ll be on the water longer than the time between your dog’s normal potty breaks. Also bring medicine from the vet for seasickness.
Gordon Wilson, writing for Modern Dog Magazine, says that if your dog is new to boating or if you’re on a different boat than the dog’s been on before, plan a very short trip before going on longer trips to see how the dog responds to new noises and movements of the moving boat.
Plan for Safety
Plan what you can do in case of an emergency before your boat leaves the dock. Lorie Huston, DVM and Certified Veterinary Journalist, recommends discussing your dog’s safety and emergency plans with other passengers. If the dog were to go overboard, make sure to keep your eyes on the dog and get to it when the water calms, and call to the dog from the boat that’s been brought to a standstill if it knows how to swim or is wearing a life jacket.
Huston also recommends creating an ID tag for your dog to wear while boating that has the marina’s contact information, your boat slip number, and your contact information. She says to bring first aid supplies, pet first aid book, any medicine the dog is currently taking, medicine for motion sickness (if your dog has had that condition previously), and supplies to stanch bleeding like Petclot and gauze pads and medical tape. She also recommends using life jackets designed for dogs, as does Wilson.
She also suggests following local laws where you’ll be on the water. Make sure you comply with regulations about boats, boating safety, and dogs, and check if you must pass a boater’s safety exam.
What Can Happen on a Boat
Wilson of Modern Dog Magazine tells the story of a woman whose pet schnauzer was discovered missing from their boat after having last seen him four hours earlier. Going overboard, either unseen or while in sight, is just one of the things dogs are vulnerable to while boating.
Other things that can happen when you take a dog boating include seasickness, sunburn, windburn, and heatstroke. Make sure you bring medicine for sea sickness, pet sunscreen, shade for the animal, and cold water and ice in case of overheating.