Boating is one of the most popular summer pastimes, and you don’t have to leave your landlubbing, four-legged friend behind! It is possible to take your pet out on the boat with you, but before you head out follow these few tips to ensure a good time is had by all.
-Above all else, get your pet used to being around the water. Introduce him to the boat a little at a time; first, when it’s tied up at the dock, and then gradually wean him away from land. Don’t load him up for a big cruise without proper practice and preparation.
-Make sure your pet has proper identification on at all times. In addition to all the usual information, this should include your boat’s permanent marina location and slip number, a phone contact for when you’re out on the water and a secondary phone number (such as a relative or land-based friend).
-This is a good time to microchip your pet if you haven’t already. The chip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, is inserted at the scruff of the neck and has a number that, when scanned, is linked to a national registry. Unlike collars, which could slip off, this is a permanent identification method.
-Get your pet his own personal flotation device (PFD) and use it! PFDs are available for a reasonable cost at boating stores. Even if your pet is a good swimmer, a sudden, unexpected dip could cause panic, and the handles on the PFD will come in handy if you need to haul your pet back on board. Make sure that your pet is used to his PFD before setting out on the water.
-Make sure there aren’t any hazardous or dangerous materials within your pet’s reach.
– If you will be fishing while out on the water, remember that fishhook accidents are not uncommon, and usually occur when a rod or baited hook is left unattended. Once a fishhook becomes embedded, special care is needed to remove it due to the multiple barbs designed to keep fish on the hook. To prevent fishhook accidents (and a trip to see us for emergency care!), prepare only the lures you need at the moment, preferably a single one; keep unused bait and equipment covered as some baits are irresistible to dogs and some non-live bait stimulates their inquisitive nature; and be sure your dog is safely out of the way when you cast your line to avoid accidental snags or your dog thinking it’s a game of chase the lure.
-Be prepared and get seasickness medication for your pet, just in case. Some of the same medications humans use can be used for pets, but always check with us before administering any medications to your pet. Having the medication on hand isn’t a bad idea, especially if you will be venturing out further than you have on previous trips–you never know when the winds will kick up and rock the boat a little more than normal.
-If you plan to visit foreign lands on your journey, it is a good idea to check the regulations before you travel. Many countries have quarantine or health laws that apply to “foreign” animals.
In no time at all, your pet will be the perfect first mate for your own “three hour tour!”