As the weather heats up, many of us are headed to the lake for a little rest and relaxation on the boat. Not surprisingly, many dog owners enjoy taking their pets along for the ride as well. But taking your dog out on the waters requires many of the same safety precautions you would afford your friends and loved ones, plus a few more.

The following tips can help keep everyone safe and happy both on deck and in the water.


The term PFD stands for Personal Floatation Device. But, for responsible pet owners, PFD translates to Pet Floatation Device as well.

The PFD is not all that different from the life jackets we wear. In fact, the only real difference is that they are designed to fit our pets and compliment their natural buoyancy. Pet Floatation Devices come in a wide range of sizes, from the smallest of smalls to XXL. They should be on-hand (if not worn at all times) for every dog coming aboard.

When choosing a PFD for your four-legged friend, here are a few key considerations:

  • Fit. Make sure the PFD fits securely. It’s best to have a professional check the fit in the store, before you buy.
  • Lifting handles. To make retrieving your pet safer and easier, seasoned boaters will tell you that a back handle is best, especially in rough waters.
  • Comfort. Check to see where straps and buckles fall to make sure they won’t cause your pet any discomfort.
  • Color. Choose a bright color to make it easier to spot your dog in the water. Reflectors are also wise if you’ll be on the water after dark.

Even if your dog is a natural swimmer, as some breeds are, it’s not uncommon for even the strongest swimmers to become tired or disoriented after spending countless hours in the water.

Regardless of what type of dog you have, or whether they will be enjoying their day on deck or in the water, the PFD is an invaluable piece of life-saving gear for any pet-friendly water outing.

Tips of the Trade

Aside from PFDs, here are a few other key considerations to keep in mind when taking your pet boating:

  • Keep plenty of fresh drinking water available. Dehydration is a real concern from everyone, pets included.
  • Never attach your pet to a fixed leash on the boat, especially near a railing. This could lead to serious injury or death in a variety of circumstances.
  • Protect their feet. Dogs absorb heat through the pads on their feet and boat surfaces can get very hot in the sun, there is protective footwear available for dogs, should you need it.
  • Provide a carpeted area for your dog to “dig” into with their claws should you hit rough waters.
  • Provide a shaded area. Excessive exposure to the sun can cause problems for animals and humans alike. Plus, we all like to relax in the shade on a hot day.
  • Walk your dog so he or she can relieve himself or herself before boarding. If the boat surface allows, and you’re planning an extended trip, you may wish to train your dog to go in a specific spot once on board.
  • Keep your first outing short, to let your dog get used to the boat movement prior to extended outings. Likewise, keep in mind that dogs can be susceptible to motion sickness, just like us.

If you have any other questions or concerns regarding boating and your pet, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re always happy to help.

Bon Voyage!