Boating season has arrived and whether you are a first time Captain or seasoned professional it is always a good idea to refresh the safety concerns when boating with your 4-legged steward. Lifejackets are a necessity for both humans and dogs. Even dogs that are strong swimmers
should have a lifejacket in case they fall out of the boat in rough water, get caught in a current, swallow too much water or are knocked unconscious and unable to swim. Lifejackets for pets usually have a handle on top, which also makes it easier to heft the dog back onto the boat if they fall overboard. All lifejackets are not the same, so make sure you get the right fit and the right level of buoyancy. Make sure your dog can move around, lie down and still go the bathroom while wearing the jacket.
Make sure everyone on your boat knows what to do if a pet gets knocked off the boat. Circle back to your dog and cut the motor when you get close enough. Never jump into the water to get the dog, your dog could pull you under while struggling to stay above water.
Make sure you have sunscreen and insect repellent formulated for dogs and visit our blog on First Aid kits to ensure you have the proper supplies in case your pet gets injured during your boating trip and you are not close to land or a veterinarian. Dogs are susceptible to sunburns and can get skin cancer so ensure they are protected and have access to shade on the boat. Remember that their nose and ears are particularly vulnerable to the sun and wind. Always have fresh water available for drinking and keep your pup hydrated.
It would be a good idea to get your dog accustom to the boat before actually taking off from the dock. Let them sniff around and get comfortable. Watch the dog when you start the engine and make sure they don’t try to bolt for shore. Go on a short, slow ride initially and if your dog is nervous and doesn’t take to life on the water, it may be better to leave them at home.
Make sure you have leash handy on the boat for several reasons. In case you have an unplanned stop, an emergency, or an you meet another boater with dogs you will much more control of your dog with a leash.
Plan for onshore breaks to allow your dog to do his business or use potty pads or astroturf if your dog will go on the boat.
Always be responsible for your dog and know his whereabouts at all times. If you can’t keep an eye on him, make sure he is somewhere safe and secure.