Boating Safety Has Gone to the Dogs!

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We are fortunate enough to live close to Lake Erie, which while not ideal for swimming, can be a ton of fun on the boat. Wherever we go, the dogs come too (the horses we leave at home)! Whether it’s a road trip, or a boat trip, we like to have everyone together to enjoy the fun. When we do get out on the boat, we like to make sure that the dogs are just as safe, comfortable, and happy as the rest of the crew, so we follow the “Safety Tips for Boating with Dogs” offered by Heidi Ganahl, of Camp Bow Wow, North America’s largest and fastest growing pet care franchise.

Pets Need PFD (Personal Floatation Device)

Remember, 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 dog, visit your local pet store for personal floatation devices (PFD) made especially for your dog to ensure his safety. In order to guarantee that the PFD will function properly, make sure to try it on your pet beforehand. Allow your dog time to practice swimming while wearing the PFD so that he can become familiar with the device.

Don’t Assume Your Dog is a Natural Nautical Pup

Dogs often prefer stationary areas, like their dog bed. Placing your dog on a moving vehicle may be a stressful experience if they are not properly prepared. Before the big boating day, introduce your dogs to the boat and allow them to become acquainted with it while it is still immobile. Next, start the boat’s engine. The loud noise will probably be unfamiliar to Fido and hearing it will help him adjust. Next, bring the dogs onto the boat and take them on a short ride. So that the dogs will begin associating their PFD’s with the boat, it is a good idea to have him practice swimming in it after the boat ride.

Pets Need SPF Too

Just like humans, dogs can get extremely sunburned, especially if he has light colored hair. Dog sunburns can cause the same problems as that of humans: peeling, redness and even Cancer. Skin cancer in pets is much more prevalent than people think, 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 are: inside the nostrils, tip of nose, around your dog’s lips and the inside of ears for dogs with standup ears.

Be Careful Not to Have TOO Much Fun in the Sun

Excessive sun exposure can cause heat problems for dogs, like heat strokes, if not given a break from the heat and sun. Boat surfaces made of fiberglass are prone to getting extremely hot when in direct sunlight, and your dogs will absorb that heat through the pads in their feet. Be sure to establish a shaded area where they can retreat when they are feeling overheated. Depending on where you’re boating, a dip in the water can be a great way to cool them down.

Fresh Water for the Dogs, Too

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

Dogs Will Need to Relieve their Bladder

If possible, designate a spot where Fido can urinate while on the boat. Pet stores sell great Wee-Wee Pads or doggie potties that look just like a patch of grass. Having one of these options on board for dogs to use will help them know where to go and it is easy cleanup for the owner.

Most of all, get out there and enjoy what’s left of your summer! We have a few weeks before things start winding down and you will want to soak up the sun before the snowflakes come calling once again! Happy Boating!




  1. Richard Hicks says

    Very good tips for dog safety. Why wouldn’t anyone do these? Afterall our dog is part of the family

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