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Friday, August 9, 2013
Boating on the lake is a great way to spend time with family and friends. Enjoying the views, swimming in the cool water or just motoring around on the boat are activities that can be shared by everyone.
As with any motorized activity, there are many precautions that should be taken to ensure that everyone returns home healthy. Similarly, if you are like me and love to bring your pet onboard to share in the fun, there are a few things to consider before departing to guarantee a safe trip for all.
For starters, it is wise to acclimate your dog to boating. Slowly introduce the pet to the lake and your boat. Let the animal get acquainted with the boat while still on the trailer or docked. If possible, turn on the engine to get it used to the motor. Make the first trip short so the animal can get accustomed to the movement. A slow introduction will encourage a positive lake experience.
It is easy to overlook, but remember to provide plenty of shade and water for your pets. Dogs do not sweat and can easily get overheated. While on land, most dogs will stay in the shade to keep cool, so be prepared to provide shade for them while on the boat. Do not assume your pet will be able to drink from the lake, so have a bowl of water available for them at all times.
That leads to the next item : Don’t forget about potty breaks. After drinking water all day, everyone needs to relieve themselves at some point. However, most dogs would rather rupture their bladder than urinate on the boat deck. I honestly do not know if they go while swimming, so plan on potty breaks throughout the day. There are also products available that simulate grass for a portable dog potty if unable to get to land.
Paws and pads probably are the most common areas for injury. Broken nails and torn pads on rip-rap are the most frequent ones I treat. Be aware that both can bleed a lot, so have some bandage material available to wrap the paws if needed.
A pair of tweezers for thorns and sticker brush removal is also a good item to take along. The boat deck can get super hot and burn your pet’s feet if not careful. Protect your pet from the hot spots by providing shade and keeping the dangerous areas wet.
Some dogs love to swim while others will only swim to survive. Some will jump off the boat and swim all day while others only love to sit in the boat but don’t want their feet wet.
Whether your dog is a “swimmer” or a “boater,” consider a pet life vest. Even the best swimmers can get tired, and, sometimes, the non-swimmers can fall into the water. In either case, it is much easier to retrieve your pet if they have on a PFD.
Make sure the PFD is properly fitted for your pet. Ensure the buckles are in a good location and there is not too much fabric to cause your pet to overheat. Pick one with a bright color to make finding them easy and make sure it has a sturdy handle to lift them when needed.
Most dogs cannot use a standard ladder to get back into the boat so unless you have a dog ladder or swim platform, it is safer to lift a pet from the water with a PFD handle. Be careful if trying to push your dog onto the boat, because its nails can cause painful scratches on your body while underwater. And never use the collar to pull your dog out of the water — it can cause serious neck injuries to your pet.
Bringing your pet on as a first mate is a ton of fun.
With some training, most dogs learn to love the boating experience. The best thing about having a four-legged first mate, you never have to worry about them telling anyone about the docking attempt that went awry.