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Boat Safety for Dogs

Boaters love to bring their pups on boating vacations. Or maybe you’re having guests for the day who will be bringing their pup along. Whenever you have a dog on board, it’s important to be sure your furry guests will be safe and happy. Here are some tips for pre-trip planning, while you’re at sea, and when you reach your destination. Please add your own tips in the comments.

Planning Your Trip

  • Make sure your dog’s shots are up to date.

  • It's important to have your cell phone number on your dog’s tags.

  • Pack their medications and be sure you have enough if you should be away a few days longer than planned. Apply (according to directions) flea and tick treatment.

  • Ask your vet about motion sickness medication. Some work on dogs, but others may be lethal.

  • Find out what veterinary services are available at your destination – just in case they’re needed.

  • Bring plenty of dog food, in case your brand isn’t available during your travels.

  • Bring a correct-size life jacket for all dogs on board. Look for bright colors.

  • Cover slick boat surfaces such as fiberglass with non-skid mats or carpets to prevent accidents (for people, too!).

  • If you will be staying at a dock, have a ramp or step for your dog to easily get off and on the boat.

  • It’s also important to have a water ramp or steps to easily get a dog onto the boat directly from the water.

  • Take a spare collar and leash. A long leash – up to 30 feet – is good for playtime at your destination.

  • Don’t forget water toys that float.

While You’re Underway

  • Never leave a dog unattended outside the cabin while traveling.

  • Dogs should always wear a brightly-colored life jacket – especially for night trips or rough waters. Put a light on the jacket. The bright color and light will help you spot an overboard pup.

  • Apply doggy sunscreen. Yes, dogs can get sunburned.

  • Do not tether your dog with a leash that's long enough for them to go overboard.

  • If you have to stop for fuel or canal locks, and when you're docking the boat, secure your dog in the cabin so they don’t interfere with your task – or worse – have an opportunity to get off the boat.

  • For long trips, plan for bathroom stops along the way. If stops aren’t possible, train your dog to go on a piece of carpet or Astroturf.

At your destination

  • Become familiar with your surroundings.

  • Make sure the water dish is always full and that your dog knows where it's located.

  • See if there is a dog comfort area, or

  • Hope this goes without saying, but always pick up after your pup.

  • Are there any areas where dogs are not permitted?

  • Find out what wildlife is in the area.

  • Keep your dog leashed.

  • Make sure your dog doesn’t get too much sun.

  • Keep your dog from drinking salt water to avoid stomach problems.

  • Have fun!!


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