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Four Key Ways to Boat Safely With Pets

Rhodesian ridgeback wearing a sailor outfit and a life preserverSummer is definitely the time to take the boat out and head for the lake. Whether it’s a day trip or longer, if you plan to boat safely with pets, there are some things you need to do first to ensure their safety and comfort.

1/ Plan, Plan, Plan! You’ll need to pack all the basics for your pet. Puppy pads for potty breaks, toys, treats and food, a water bowl, any medications they might need, and health records in case of an emergency, especially if your trip is an extended one. If you haven’t chipped your pet, now is a great time to do it. 

2/ Invest in a Doggy Life Jacket. State law requires a life jacket for everyone on board a vessel. While it doesn’t specifically mention dogs, your pet is a member of your family, so why wouldn’t you protect them, too? It’s tempting to just order a life vest online to save time and money. Problem is – dogs come in so many shapes, weights and sizes, you’d be better served by making a trip to a sporting good or pet store to test it out for size and fit. Make the trip – it’ll save you lots of hassle in the long run, and it might even save your pet’s life! Introduce them to wearing the life vest before you go on the boat – trust us on this one.

3/ Make a Test Run. Not all dogs are going to be comfortable on a boat, so it’s wise to keep the first outing a short one.  Allow your dog to get acclimated on the boat BEFORE you head for water, or while you are still docked. Once you’re on the water, watch your dog carefully for signs of sea/motion sickness. Symptoms of motion sickness include: 

  • Inactivity
  • Listlessness
  • Uneasiness
  • Yawning or panting
  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting (even on an empty stomach)

4/ The Heat is a Hazard! Be sure your pet has access to shade on the boat and plenty of clean, fresh water. Dogs are more prone to heatstroke and will need to stay hydrated, so know the signs. More information on heat stroke in pets.

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