Boating With Your Pets 101

Pet Safety in Boats

Boating can be hazardous for pets. A few safety pointers to keep in mind:

  • Keep fishin­g gear contained and out of your pet's reach. Dogs and cats have been known to get hooked. If that happens, don't try to remove the hook yourself. Keep the dog calm. Do what you can to lighten or stabilize the hook's weight, then get to a vet as quickly as possible.
  • Keep an eye on your pet at all times, both on the water and on shore.
  • Even though boating is fun, don't forget to enforce discipline. Your dog should know it can only go in the water when you say so.
  • You must monitor the deck's temperature at all times. Cats and dogs can burn their paw pads. You might want to have protective paw shoes for your pets.
  • Remember that pets can lose their footing on a wet deck.
  • If your trip also involves camping, be vigilant about ticks. Pets are more vulnerable to Lyme disease than humans are.
  • Have plenty of fresh water handy. Cats and dogs may pant more when they're excited or nervous, and out in the sun they have an even greater risk of dehydration.
  • If you're planning to spend time on a beach, look for debris on the sand. Sharp objects, crabs and jellyfish can all be hazardous to a curious pet. Have a first aid kit with tweezers on hand.
  • Keep sunscreen (at least SPF 15) on hand. Pets can get sunburned, just as people can [source: NRS]. Consider buying a lightweight sun-proof jacket for breeds with very short hair. At the very least, make sure your pet's water dish is in a shaded area, so your pet has a reason to get out of the sun periodically.
  • Never tie your pet to your boat. If you encounter rough waters, or the boat turns over, your pet won't be able to swim to safety. Use a carrier or harness to confine your pet.
  • Know the signs of seasickness: They are disorientation, excessive salivation and apathy [source: Animal Planet].
  • Keep a fishing net handy to rescue pets that have fallen overboard.

Boating with pets takes patience and preparation. But when you and your best friend are out on the water, you'll be glad you did it.

To learn more, visit the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • Animal Planet. "Petfinder: Boating." Animal Planet. (Accessed 1/18/09)
  • Centers for Disease Control. "Bringing an Animal into the United States." (Accessed 1/14/09)
  • Dickinson, Elaine. "Is Boating Going to the Dogs?" BOAT/U.S. 2000. (Accessed 1/19/09)
  • Discover Boating. "Boater Safety Education" (Accessed 1/19/09)
  • Dogs in the News. "Shipwrecked Dog Rescues Self." September 16, 2006. (Accessed 1/19/09)
  • Drummond, Pat. "Pat's Boating in Canada: Cruising with Pets." (Accessed 1/19/09)
  • NRS. "Boating Safety with Man's Best Friend." (Accessed 1/18/09)
  • Pet Place. "Driving Fluffy: Driving with Your Cat." (Accessed 1/18/09)
  • Stacey, Wayne. "Keep Your Dog Safe on Water." Boating World. January 2009. (Accessed 1/19/09)