Dog on board- Safe Sailing tips

Published by MM Editor on Monday, 29th May 2017 - 1:36PM

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Boating With Dogs: My top list of must haves and do's & don'ts for your four legged Sailors.

By Rebecca Whitelatch/Editor marinemotionri 

Summer’s almost here, and it’s time to get the boat out and set sail. If you’re a dog owner, you may be planning to bring your canine crew along for the ride. Before your pooch hops on board, take a look at these safety tips and make sure you’re prepared for the voyage.

Before You Get on the Boat

1. Develop a plan in case your dog goes overboard. Terri Parrow Botsford, vice president of Internet operations for BoatUS, suggests creating a game plan before you even bring your dog on a boat. “Talk about what everyone would do if your dog goes overboard,” Botsford says. “You’ll cut the engine, go to this part of the boat to call them, etc. Think about it ahead of time and practice if you have the chance.”

2. Invest in a life jacket. It’s important for your dog to have a life jacket before you take him out onto the water. You may think your dog is a strong swimmer, but depending on the conditions, including weather and currents, he could face problems. If you need to pull your dog out of the water, you need something to grab onto. Most life jackets have a handle so you can lift and pull them out. You don’t want to ever grab the collar.

3. Bring a first-aid kit. Make sure you have a stocked first aid kit on your boat. The Humane Society of The United States recommends a number of pet-specific supplies and useful items to include. For a boat-specific kit, bring antibiotic ointment for minor scrapes, and of course making sure you have a good supply of any medications your dog may be on.

4. Visit the boat with your pet prior to your trip. Let your dog get acquainted with your boat before taking him out on the water. If this is his first time on the vessel, it's recommended bringing him to visit it while it’s on a trailer or at the dock so he can get used to his surroundings in a safe, secure environment.

5. Check local laws about dogs and boats. While there are no national legal restrictions or requirements pertaining to having animals on your boat, double-check local laws, since regulations can vary by state. Also, if you plan to enter international waters, look for foreign laws regarding dogs on boats. 

*Also be sure to not let your pup explore off leash on islands with migrating or nesting birds.

When You’re on the Boat

6. Keep your dog’s first outing short.  It’s best to make your dog’s first boat outing brief so he can adjust to the ship’s movement. The first time they are out on a boat they can also get seasick. If seasickness becomes severe, ask your veterinarian about possible medication for future outings.

7. Identification Include a mobile number on your pet’s tag. Preferably a tag that clips directly to the collar because it can’t get caught on anything or scratch your boat. Consider having a microchip embedded beneath the dog’s skin. The chip is part of a registry and can be read by veterinary clinics.

8. Leashes and Collars A harness, as opposed to a collar, provides a means to grab and lift the dog, even using a boat hook.

9. Hydration It is important that you not  encourage your dog to drink water from the lake or sea. Freshwater lakes are often contaminated from factories and boats and contain harmful organisms so never allow your dog to drink water from a lake. Take fresh drinking water with you on your trip and give that to your dog. As the atmosphere out on sea can be hot and dry, your dog is at risk of getting dehydrated so make sure there is ample drinking water available to him at all times.

10. Sunscreen, yes sunscreen Just as we need sunscreen to protect ourselves from harmful rays, so do some dogs. Short haired breeds of dogs can get easily sunburned and you should use a light SPF sunscreen such as SPF-15 on your dog. On unusually hot and sunny days a higher SPF factor may be warranted. Make sure you choose a neutrally scented sunscreen so it doesn’t irritate your dog.

Last but not least.

Along with the life vest is the "doggy docks" this is a safe and great way for your dog to get on and off the boat. I recommend teaching them how to use it before going out to sea. 

Your four legged friend looks like dinner to some deep sea predators be sure to be on the look out while "Spot" is enjoying a dip.


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