Tips for Safe & Fun Boating with Dogs

By Bruce Gagliolo Posted on June 15, 2017

Summer is here, and it’s time to get the boat out and head for the water. If you enjoy boating, you probably enjoy taking your best friends out on your boat, especially if they happen to have four legs and a tail.

The following tips can help you keep your pet safe and happy while out on the water:

  • Keep plenty of fresh drinking water available.
    • Dehydration is a killer and the lack of water in the body can cause serious complications for pets and people alike. Water is essential to all living beings, including dogs, who depend on proper daily fluid intake to maintain appropriate health. Water makes up 80 percent of your dog’s body, and serves as the root of all his biological processes, including circulation, digestion and waste removal.
  • Provide a shaded area—excessive exposure to the sun can cause problems for animals.
    • Make sure your dog has a place to escape the sun. The best way to stay safe from UV rays is to avoid them entirely. Dogs can also suffer eye damage from too much sun exposure.
    • Search for sunscreens that are designed specifically for dogs, and consult your veterinarian for recommendations. If you’re having trouble finding a canine-specific sunscreen, look for one that’s safe for human babies or sensitive skin. Avoid Zinc Oxide – It’s a common ingredient in sunscreen, but unfortunately it can be toxic to dogs if they eat it because of the zinc. Check the label before you apply. We recommend bringing a light, unscented SPF 15 spray.
  • Protect their feet—dogs absorb heat through the pads on their feet and boat surfaces can get very hot in the sun.
    • Mild burns can be hard to spot, especially if a dog’s pads are black. Many people don’t notice that their dog’s paws are burned unless they are constantly licking them or limp when they walk.
    • Veterinarians sayto be especially careful around water. Water softens dog pads and hot surfaces like boat docks, boat decks and pavement can easily burn them.


  • Give your pet a chance to get acquainted with the boat while it is on the trailer or at the dock.
    • Let your dog explore the boat before you leave the dock. To get your dog used to the boat, you should let it explore and sniff all around the boat. With the dog on leash, lead it all over the boat so that it gets a general understanding of the space. This will help to ease the stress of being stuck in a new space.
  • Walk your dog so he can relieve himself before boarding; if the boat surface allows, you may wish to train him to go in a specific spot
    • If your dog won’t go to the bathroom on a wee-wee pad on the boat, you will need to give it a break on land to do its business. This is important for housebroken pets, as they need to be able to go to the bathroom on a regular basis.
  • Keep your first outing short, to let your dog get used to the boat movement.
    • Don’t assume that your dog will love boating and will easily spend a long time on the boat on its first outing. Instead, begin with a short trip designed to introduce your dog to boating.
    • Like most new experiences, your dog may take some time to acclimate. Just because it is nervous or scared on its first boating trip, that doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. With a kind and gradual approach, your dog may become an avid boater over time.

Bruce and Suzanne Gagliolo own and operate Dog-Mania & Cats Pet Boutique, where dog & cat owners go to scratch their itch.

The large storefront in Dade City carries:

  • Holistic foods, treats, and supplements
  • Strollers, carriers, bedding, and ID tags
  • Breed specific jewelry, art, clocks, figurines, stickers, and more
  • Apparel and accessories
  • Personalized gifts made from photos

The Gagliolos are strong supporters of local charities and pet rescues. Stop by the store at 37846 Meridian Ave., Dade City, FL 33525 Monday through Friday from 10am to 6 pm and Saturday from 9-5. Call 352-467-9622 for more info.



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