Nothing is more exhilarating that the smell of the sea and the wind in your hair as you sail carefree under a warm sun. If you enjoy boating, there’s no reason not to take your best friend with you. After all, dogs love going places with their owners.
Most dogs enjoy water, they are instinctive swimmers and very few dogs are afraid of the water (except during bath time!). Nothing beats a warm summer day out on a boat with the companionship of your dog. Dogs are an important part of most families and a holiday just isn’t a holiday if you leave your first mate at home. Safety is important on a boat and it is especially important if you take your dog along with you. There are a few simple things you can do to make sure your day out on sea (or the lake) doesn’t turn into a scene from Titanic.
Let's start with the basics for what you need to know when taking your dog boating:
1. Invest in a canine life jacket.
The first thing you should do before sailing with your dog is to get him a canine life jacket (we'll touch more on this later). You can find doggie life jackets at most boating stores and pet shops. When buying a life jacket for your dog make sure it’s a good fit. Even though most dogs can swim, high seas or fatigue can cause drowning in even the most avid of swimmers, so don’t risk it, get your dog a life jacket. Even if your dog doesn’t drown if he goes overboard for any reason, excessive fatigue can cause numerous problems.
2. Do not encourage your dog to drink water from the lake or sea.
The second thing you should do is not to encourage your dog to drink water from the lake or sea. Freshwater lakes are often contaminated from factories and boats and contain harmful organisms so never allow your dog to drink water from a lake. Take fresh drinking water with you on your trip and give that to your dog. As the atmosphere out on sea can be hot and dry, your dog is at risk of getting dehydrated so make sure there is ample drinking water available to him at all times.
3. Consider purchasing and applying sunscreen for your dog.
The third thing you should do that doesn’t readily come to mind when you’re thinking about dogs is sunscreen. Just as we need sunscreen to protect ourselves from harmful rays, so do some dogs. Short haired breeds of dogs can get easily sunburned and you should use a light SPF sunscreen such as SPF-15 on your dog. On unusually hot and sunny days a higher SPF factor may be warranted. Make sure you choose a neutrally scented sunscreen so it doesn’t irritate your dog.
4. Have a plan in place when your dog needs to relieve himself or herself.
The fourth and final thing you should put into consideration is that your dog will need to relieve himself somewhere. Take plenty of doggie waste bags and paper towels with you on your trip as well as an odor neutralizer to clean up after your dog. If you can train your dog to use puppy pads this is ideal as it will make cleaning up after the dog much easier. Clean up after your dog immediately to reduce the risk of feces born diseases and odor. Taking these four simple tips into consideration can help you make the most of your boating trip. Your dog will enjoy the fresh air and time spent with you and exercising basic safety precautions should ensure a safe and pleasant day out on the lake or at sea.
The truth is not all dogs can swim and those that can aren’t all great swimmers. Additionally, water or weather conditions can cause problems, even for a pet that is typically a strong swimmer. Any dog can get fatigued or disoriented and older dogs, especially, can tire easily. Pets with low body fat can have trouble when exposed to water for long periods. Health issues, such as hip or joint problems, can also make swimming difficult for some pets. While there are no regulations regarding life jackets for pets, a dog life jacket can help keep your pet safe while aboard your boat or around any body of water. Pet life jackets are designed to keep the animal afloat in a horizontal, swimming position. The pet life jacket also serves as a retrieval device, should your pet fall overboard. How do you choose a life jacket for Fido? Here are a few things to consider: Fit: Make sure the life jacket fits securely. It’s best to check the fit in the store, before you buy. Lifting handles: To make retrieving your pet safer and easier. Comfort: Check to see where straps and buckles fall to make sure they won’t cause your pet any discomfort. Color: Choose a bright color to make it easier to spot your dog in the water. Give your pet a chance to get used to wearing its life jacket before actually getting on a boat. Allow your pet to practice swimming while wearing its life jacket, too. If you find you pet enjoys boating as much as you do, a dog life jacket can provide your pet with an extra measure of safety. However, your sense of caution and common sense are still your pet’s best friend. You can find out additional information about dog life jackets by reading our blog, How Safe is That Doggie in the Water? Looking for more on boating with your favorite four-legged friend? Try reading... Programs for Water-Loving Dogs What You Need to Know Before Boating with Your Dog