Time on the water can be an enjoyable family activity, and there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to bring your furry family members with you as well. Whether you have a cat or a dog, many pets seem to enjoy boating just as much as you do. When bringing them aboard, help keep your four-legged friend safe by giving these tips a read before leaving port.
Even if you don’t plan for your pet to go in the water, it is wise to supply a life jacket to them just in case they fall overboard. Many pet stores carry pet life jackets, and options with a handle on the back can help make it easier to grab your pet out of the water and get him back on the boat. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) mentions that just like humans, pets can become easily exhausted in the water, so even strong swimmers can benefit from a little extra help.
Pets can be apprehensive in new spaces, and boats are no exception. While introducing your pet to the boat, give them their own small space that is safe and out of the way. Make sure there’s plenty of shade, as well, because our four-legged friends can absorb heat from the boat’s surfaces that can get hot from being exposed to the sun, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. This can provide them a space where they feel comfortable and have an area to call their own until they become more familiar with the boat along with all of its new sights, smells, and sounds.
To help keep your pet from overheating on hot days in the sun, bring a water bowl and make sure your pet has easy access to it. Because your pet may not always let you know when they are thirsty, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends watching out for signs of dehydration such as sunken eyes and dry mouth, gums and nose, and poor skin elasticity. In addition, panting, followed by disorientation and fast, noisy breathing, may signal overheating.
Untreated overheating or dehydration can lead to serious health concerns for your pet, so seek immediate medical attention if you believe your pet may be dehydrated.
With new options popping up in many pet stores, it may be a good idea to keep your pet safe from the sun by investing in a sunscreen specifically designed for animals. Stay away from applying traditional human varieties of sunscreen to your pets because it can be toxic to animals, according to the ASPCA. If you’re not sure if a product is safe for your pet, ask your veterinarian for recommendations or consider avoiding it altogether and try to keep your furry friend out of the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
For pets that are ready to jump in the water once the day does get hot, scan the area to make sure conditions are safe enough for them to enter. Are there strong currents in the area? Do jellyfish or other potentially dangerous sea creatures inhabit the area? Does the water look and smell clean? Stay informed about the area’s waterways and don’t let your pet swim in any waters you would not swim in yourself.
While time out on the family boat may be a new and adventurous experience for your pet, a little planning beforehand can make it an activity you can all enjoy together for years to come.