water safetySpending time on the water is one of America’s favorite pastimes during the warm summer months. Boating is a particularly great way to combine a love of outdoor recreation with a love for swimming and floating on a tranquil lake. For pet owners, this often entails bringing a water-loving dog along for some fun in the sun.

Boating with your pet, however, should also include necessary preparations and awareness of safety precautions. Like you would with a child, a pet requires some additional attention and planning to ensure a most incredible day on the water.

Before You Depart

One of the best ways to prepare your pet is to plan ahead for your big day out. Consider some of the following safety tips for boating with your pet:

  • Get your gear ready, including bringing plenty of fresh water, a collapsible or unbreakable bowl, pet safe sunscreen, a fitted life vest (even if your pet won’t get in the water), and protective footwear.
  • Make sure your pet is comfortable in the water by enrolling him or her in swimming lessons or by acclimating your pet to water in a shallow pool or other safe learning environment.
  • Be certain your boat has some form of shade for rest breaks (or install a canopy or umbrella).
  • Have a backup plan if the day is too hot or if your pet becomes too fatigued (seek out a friend who can stay on land with your pet or find a nearby kennel or daycare).

Boating With Your Pet

Bringing your water-loving hound on the boat can be a lot of fun, but this also means you must remain vigilant in providing the supervision necessary for protection.

  • Never allow your pet to swim in waves or fast moving streams or rivers.
  • Plan on keeping your pet close to you any time you are in the water.
  • Look for signs of distress or fatigue, and bring your pet onto the boat immediately.
  • Know some basics of pet water safety and first aid, as well as the signs of heat-related illness in pets.
  • Remember that your pet is also susceptible to intense UV rays and plan accordingly. Bring along some shade and a pet-safe sunscreen (do not use your own).
  • Keep your pet’s life vest on him or her at all times.
  • Make sure at least one person on board is responsible for supervising your pet.

On the Shore

When entering or exiting a boat, make sure your pet has assistance by installing a ramp or by walking him or her on a leash to the shore. Remember, scalding sand can harm sensitive paws, so be cautious when approaching sandy or packed earth areas, as well as wooden docks. Check the surface temperature first.

Last but not least, do not allow your pet to drink from natural water sources, as these contain dangerous parasites. Check with us regarding your pet’s vaccination and parasite control needs.

Boating with a four-legged friend can be an enjoyable time for all. Just be sure you’re thoroughly prepared in order to have a safe (and fun!) day on the water.