10 Important Things To Keep Dogs Cool on Boats
If you’re like me, your furry friend is always up for a new adventure, especially when it involves the great outdoors.
I’ve got some experience taking my schnauzer sailing with me. On light wind days, he’s my trusty first mate, always eager to help out.
He loves to sit at the bow before the mast and take in all the sights and sounds. And he’s been trained well, so in case we capsize, he knows what to do.
Having said that, I know that keeping him cool on the boat is the top priority.
So in this article, I’m going to share some tips that I have found helpful for keeping your four-legged companion cool and comfortable on board. Read on.
1) Get Them Used To It Bit By Bit
Getting your dog comfortable with the water is key. As you may already know, not all dogs are built for swimming, so it’s important to be mindful of your pup’s swimming abilities.
Breeds like bulldogs and pugs may not be thrilled about getting in the water, while others like labs and spaniels are natural swimmers.
Also, it’s important to know your dog’s tendencies ahead of time, so they don’t develop a fear of the boat. If your pup loves the water, consider having a pet-friendly ladder on board.
You will also realize that most boat ladders are not designed with our four-legged friends in mind, and getting them back into the boat can be difficult.
Luckily, there are several pet-friendly ladders available from manufacturers. Besides, you can easily find one online.
2) Trim Away Any Excess Hair before the Trip
Before your upcoming boat trip, give your furry friend a little grooming love by trimming away any excess hair.
Now, you might have heard from some dog owners that shaving their pup is the way to go, but for our short-haired pooch, that just wouldn’t be a good look!
Although dogs naturally shed their winter coats to stay cool during summer, a little extra grooming never hurts. Help your dog stay comfortable by giving him a trim.
3) Pay Attention to Your Pup’s Safety Gear
The fact is that not all dogs are natural swimmers. Even those built for the water might need a little extra help sometimes. And that’s where life jackets come in.
Take my schnauzer, for example. Whenever I say “boat ride,” he’s off and running to the pier as fast as he can.
He has webbed feet and loves the water, but after a day of excitement, and all the heat and exercise, he gets tired.
That’s why I always keep his life jacket on board and have him wear it whenever he’s in the water.
So, keeping a life jacket close by is a good idea. If your dog or pup needs a little more help staying afloat, they must wear a life jacket at all times while on the boat.
In addition to that, be sure to choose a life jacket that fits your dog’s size and weight. There are a lot of dog-specific life jackets available on the market, but just like humans, the jacket needs to support their weight and keep them afloat.
Be sure to check the size carefully before buying.
4) Invest In a Cooling Vest for Your Furry Friend
You can transform your furry friend’s summer experience with a cooling vest. This simple yet mighty accessory is one of the best ways to keep your pup cool and comfortable on the water.
Just soak the vest in water, wring out any excess, and wrap it around your pup – voila! Your dog’s temperature will drop significantly, keeping them cool and comfortable under the hot sun.
The vest’s reflective material reduces heat absorption and provides added protection against the sun’s rays.
And, if your dog loves playing in the water, they’ll love the vest even more – the constant splashes will ensure it stays damp and effective all day long.
5) Have a Hydration Station In Place
Keeping your four-legged friend hydrated while boating with a dedicated hydration station is essential to stay cool and collected!
Just like you pack a cooler with your favorite beverages and ice to keep them cool, it’s equally important to ensure your dog stays hydrated in the heat.
Avoid the risk of them drinking seawater or lake water and bring a fresh supply of clean water, along with a sturdy pet dish.
These two essential items should be a staple on your boating trips with your dog.
Some boat manufacturers, like Barletta, seem to understand the importance of keeping your furry friend hydrated and even include pet dishes as part of their helm design.
So be sure to prioritize your dog’s hydration just as you do your own when hitting the waves.
6) Make Sure There’s a Shade
The point here’s to protect your furry friend from the harmful effects of overheating on your boat adventures.
On my pontoon boat, I’ve got it made in the shade with a trusty Bimini top that provides ample cover for my furry friend’s bed.
If your boat isn’t equipped with a Bimini, don’t worry! Deck covers can be a simple solution to creating a cool and comfortable spot for your dog.
However, the sun’s position can change when anchored or moored, leaving some areas exposed to the sun’s rays.
If your dog is anything like mine, he might have a favorite spot that’s not always shaded. You can keep your pooch cool by providing a handy umbrella or strategically placing sheets for added shade.
7) Maximize Your Dog’s Comfort with a Gel Cooling Mat
Have you ever heard of a mat that’s like magic for your furry friend? It’s hard to believe, but the benefits are real.
The one I use to keep my schnauzer from overheating on the boat is the Gel Cooling Mat, a cozy and cool spot for your pup to rest in the shade.
This mat is more than just a place to lounge; it’s a lifesaver for hot days. The special gel inside the mat works like a temperature-regulating charm, providing cushioning and cooling for up to 3 hours.
And once your pup gets up, the magic gel takes just 20 minutes to recharge and cool down.
No soaking, no refrigeration needed; it’s just pure convenience and comfort for your dog. You can find this favorite cooling mat, the Green Pet Shop Dog Cooling Mat, on Amazon.
Trust me; your dog will thank you for the gift of this amazing mat!
8) Protect His Paws from Burning On Vinyl
If your boat has hot vinyl flooring like my old pontoon boat, it can be tough on both your paws and your dog’s.
Eventually, I had to upgrade to carpet flooring on the deck, which proved to be much more comfortable, but if you don’t have that option, you can lay down towels or sheets on any vinyl flooring to prevent any paw burns.
Also, you can keep things cool by spraying the towels or sheets with water or dipping them into the water- just remember to squeeze out any excess water. This can help provide some extra relief from the heat.
9) Keeping a Leash Handy
If you spend a long day out on the water, it’s important to remember that your furry friend will need to relieve itself at some point, especially given the need to stay hydrated.
So it’s best to be prepared and have a leash on hand. In case of unexpected pit stops, the leash will come in handy, so your dog can comfortably do their business.
If you don’t plan on making a pit stop, try to let them relieve themselves before you set off on your boating adventure.
However, if your dog is prone to accidents, keeping them at home during extended boat trips is best.
Otherwise, just like us, they need a bathroom break. So make sure you’re fully equipped to handle it.
10) Splash into the Cooling Bliss
Lastly, and probably the most obvious solution, let your furry friend dive into the water. A good soaking is the quickest way to beat the heat for your dog.
However, not all dogs are great swimmers, so keep this in mind and only let them swim in shallower waters.
But for larger dogs who love the water, you can encourage them to jump in and play. To ensure your pooch is safe, consider getting a life jacket.
In fact, soaking in water is by far the most effective way to bring down their temperature, making it an essential tool in your heat-beating arsenal.
Additional Tips to Sail Smoothly With Your Dog
Stay calm, and your dog will follow suit.
Bring along your pup’s comfort item, like their favorite blanket. This will help your dog to adjust easily and comfortably.
Map out your journey ahead, breaking it into smaller segments, and consider where you’ll anchor and the fun adventures you can have on shore.
Opt for a slower pace and tranquil waters with frequent breaks. This will help your dog to have a fantastic time on the boat.
Bringing your furry friend along for a day on the boat is always fun, but keeping them comfortable in the hot weather is also important.
I hope these tips will help ensure your dog has a blast on the water. Just keep in mind that every dog is different. Some may take to boating like a fish to water, while others may not be as comfortable.
That’s why I always have the plan to keep my pooch cool while boating.
For those just starting, the key to introducing your dog to the boating and swimming lifestyle is to do it gradually.
The worst thing you can do is scare your dog by suddenly tossing them into the water or forcing them onto the boat. Start small, and give your dog time to adjust and build their confidence.