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The thought of your pet on a boat might sound fun, but also intimidating. Dogs and cats are capable of enjoying many of the same benefits from the boating experience as their loving owners. In fact, many pets all over the world become water-lovers just like their owners.

But in order to start spending time with your pet out on the water, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure you’re being responsible and safe.

Boats and pets: what are the benefits of boating with your pets?

Most pets enjoy having experiences with their owners and families. The same can be true for being on a boat, and even though it might take some extra work, boating with your pet can be fun and beneficial.

According to Formula Boats, pets can take advantage of “dynamic outdoor play,” experience enriching new sights and sounds, and even help forge bonds and connections with other boaters. Not only do you and your pet get to enjoy more quality time together, but some pets can even offer additional benefits like security and protection of your family/belongings.

How to have the best experience with your pet

Before you even start the process of getting your pet on your boat, you’ll need to do some research. If you dock at a marina, verify that pets are allowed. Although the U.S. doesn’t have too many restrictions on pets in marine vessels as a whole, local waterways may carry different restrictions. Trips into international waters may even require specific paperwork for your pet.

Just as entering the boating world requires acclimation for humans, your pet will also need to adjust to being on a boat. But there’s plenty you can do to help make the boating experience for your pet easier and more enjoyable.

Before planning a big excursion, prepare ahead of time by giving your pet some time to acclimate to the boat in an inactive, controlled environment. Your pet can get used to the new environment and will feel more comfortable when you get out on the water. The first few times your pet is on the boat, try to keep it short and build up their acclimation to longer trips.

Once your pet is comfortable with the boat, you’ll need to ensure your boat is ready for your pet. According to Banfield, here are a few things you should have on your boat when bringing a pet:

  • Plenty of water and food
  • A place for them to urinate (litter box, puppy pads, etc.)
  • Protection from the sun (sun exposure can harm pets too)
  • Identification for your animal

Important things to consider when bringing a pet on your boat

Boat owners going for a ride with their pet dogs
Two dogs go for a ride on a boat | Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

If you’ve decided that it’s time your pet joins in on your boating experience, there are a few important things to consider before getting him or her onto the water. One of the most important to remember is that the safety of your pet should be just as important as any boat passenger’s safety.

According to Dog Time, before you take your first water journey, you should develop an emergency plan to handle just-in-case situations, like if your pet goes overboard.

As every member of the crew should have a life jacket or vest, so should your pet. Be sure to invest in a quality life jacket that fits your pet’s size and weight. For cats, owners should consider using a leash to tether him or her, as a cat’s smaller size may make it more likely to fall overboard.

It is important to note that while some animals may be strong swimmers, others will not be. And in the event of bad weather or harsh water conditions, even the strongest swimmers can struggle. You should also be sure to add some pet-related items to your boat’s first-aid kit, including any necessary medications. With a little preparation, man’s best friend can join in on the boating fun.


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