Since we’re in the middle of National Pet Week (who knew?), the U.S.Coast Guard Auxiliary has written some great tips about how to keep your pet safe on your boat. Read them here:
If you take your dog (or cat) boating, please have them wear a life jacket and have an overboard plan. Please do not take chances with your best furry friend.
Have them wear a snug, well-fitted life jacket on the dock and underway. The life jacket should have a strong handle to lift them out of the water and be a bright color with reflective trim. Even the strongest swimmers are susceptible to getting tired, hypothermia, and strong currents just like their humans. They can even get knocked out or injured while falling overboard.
Not all life jackets are the same. They come in different sizes and buoyancy. Make sure to test the life jacket on your dog in calm waters or pool under full supervision before taking them underway.
Have a leash on your dog or handy at all times. Some dogs may get nervous due to the movement and vibration. It may be better to start with shorter trips to see how your pet reacts. Be aware of waves that could possibly throw a dog from the boat.
Dogs can get sunburn and skin cancer too. Use sunscreen formulated especially for dogs, checking with your vet for a recommended product.
Have a shaded place on the boat for the dog to rest, with the availability of water.
Have a first aid kit for humans and a special one for your dog.
Have at least one other person onboard assigned to look after your pet. It is easy to get distracted and the captain of the boat needs to focus on boating. Consider leaving your cherished pet at home if there is no one available to help. Your pet should be supervised at all times while on the water.
Carry your dog on and off the boat if there is no ramp. A dog can slip if jumping on, and potentially get caught between the dock and the boat.
This does not cover all scenarios. Expect the unexpected and protect your pooch or other loved pet while boating.
( FN Cole gets underway on a Coast Guard response boat from U.S. Coast Guard Station Coos Bay last week. FN Cole is the station mascot and an excellent example of boating safely. U.S. Coast Guard photo by CWO Beth Slade, Commanding Officer Station Coos Bay. Used with permission.
BZ FN Cole!)