Boating With Dogs

Tips to keep your pet safe

Published in the August 2013 Issue August 2013 Feature PDB Staff Report

Heading out this weekend for a little fun in the sun with your pet? Be sure to follow these safety tips from Camp Bow Wow to assure your family pet enjoys the day as much as you do.

PFD’s Needed

Your dog may not be the best swimmer. If he can swim, he may be at risk of exhaustion or hypothermia if he falls overboard. When planning a boating trip with your pet, visit your local pet store for personal floatation devices (PFD) made especially for Fido to ensure his safety. In order to guarantee that the PFD will function properly, make sure to try it on your pet beforehand. Allow Fido time to practice swimming while wearing the PFD so that he can become familiar with the device. 

Pets Need SPF Too

Just like us humans, dogs can get extremely sunburned, especially if he has light colored hair. Dog sunburns can cause the same problems as that of people—peeling, redness and even cancer. Skin cancer in pets is much more prevalent than one would assume, so purchasing pet-friendly sun screen can go a long way in protecting your dog’s health during your boating adventure. Places that are easy to forget, but prone to burning include inside the nostrils, the tip of the nose, around your dog’s lips and the inside of his ears.

Too Much Fun

Excessive sun exposure can cause health complications for Fido, like heat strokes. Boat surfaces made of fiberglass are prone to getting extremely hot when in direct sunlight, and Fido will absorb that heat through the pads in his feet. Be sure to establish a shaded area where your pet can retreat when he or she is feeling overheated. Depending on where you’re boating, a dip in the water can be a great way to cool down your pet.

Don’t Assume You Have A Nautical Pup

Dogs often prefer stationary areas. Placing Fido on a moving vehicle may be a stressful experience if he is not properly prepared. Before the big day, introduce Fido to the boat and allow him to become acquainted with it while it is still immobile. Next, start the boat’s engine. The loud noise will most likely be unfamiliar to Fido and hearing it will help him to adjust. Next, bring Fido onto the boat and take him on a short ride. 

Fresh Water

Be sure to keep Fido hydrated by bringing fresh drinking water onto the boat. A water bottle that can squirt water directly into Fido’s mouth is a good way to hydrate him during a bumpy boat ride. As Fido may not know how dehydrated he really is, he might not beg for water on his own. If necessary, initiate his water consumption.

Relieving His Bladder

If possible, designate a spot where Fido can “tinkle” while on the boat. Pet stores sell wee-wee pads and doggie potties that look just like a patch of grass. Having one of these options onboard for Fido to use will help him know where to go, and can offer an easy clean-up for the owner as well. For more information visit

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