No member of your family is as excited to go out for a ride on your boat as your dog. With the sun, the fresh air, the water and a bunch of playmates contained within the gunwales of your boat, what’s not to love, from the dog’s perspective.

Bringing Bowser on board should be fairly safe and easy for all involved. But responsible pet and boat owners should pay attention to some specific needs dogs might have on a boat. Here are a few tips that most veterinarians recommend for your pet.

Life Jackets for Dogs

Most breeds of dog love the water, and most are strong swimmers. But not all breeds are the same, older dogs can tire easily in the water, and conditions out on the water can present challenges to some dogs. That’s why most vets recommend pet owners purchase a personal floatation device (PFD) for your dog. 

Doggie life vests come in all shapes and sizes (see the selection at Amazon here.) Prices start at around $25 and are made to handle different shapes, sizes and weights. 

You can purchase pet vests at our own Boatique as well! The life vest will help keep Fido’s head above water in most conditions, and they usually are built with strong handles on the top for hauling the wet dog back into the boat.

Doggie Health

Remember the basics: a dog on board will need to keep hydrated. Bring along a water bowl and make sure the dog knows where it is. Barletta Pontoon models include a food/water drawer for pooch as well!

Many vets recommend sunblock for a dog’s tender parts: the ears, underbelly and nose. Those are most susceptible to harsh UV rays, just like humans. The spray-on sunblock for pets made by Epi-Pet is FDA compliant. 

Finally, if your dog is a regular passenger on the boat, you might think of purchasing a first-aid kit for dogs. RC-Pets sells a kit that includes gauze pads, bandages, cold-packs, antiseptic wipes, saline solution and an emergency blanket. 

When the dog’s gotta go

Nature calls, even for dogs, so a boat owner needs to be prepared. Amazon and most pet stores sell a wide variety of pee pads to handle No. 2; and many boat owners bring along a square of artificial carpeting to provide their dog with a place to deposit No. 1. You should also have a good supply of disposal bags, paper towels, disinfectant spray and maybe a supply of nitrile gloves.

Other than that, dog owners usually pack an extra (and old) towel for drying off a wet dog, some chew toys and balls to chase, and lots of treats. With a little preplanning, both you and your dog should have a great time out on the water.