Operator inattention is one of the top causes of boating accidents. You may be used to having family and friends on board, but what about Fido?
If your dog is new to the boating experience, your concern for him may take your focus away from your responsibilities as captain, and that could lead to trouble. Here are four tips to keep Fido safe so everyone on board can enjoy an outing on the water.
1. Safety apparel
You may not plan for your dog to go into the water, but it is a good idea to outfit him with a life jacket. Pet stores carry a selection, and some designs have a handle on the back, which would make grabbing Fido easier if he should fall overboard.
While you are in the pet store, you might also look at sunscreen made specifically for canines. Do not use the kind made for humans, because according to the ASPCA, the ingredients can be toxic to animals. You might ask your veterinarian for sunscreen recommendations.
3. A safe place
If taking a cruise on a boat is going to be a new experience, remember that your pet may be somewhat apprehensive and unsure about the new sights and smells. Give Fido his own safe place that is shady and out of the way of the activity on board. Remember that the boat surfaces can get hot from the sun and you do not want your pet to suffer from overexposure to heat.
4. Water supply
Be sure you bring along a bowl and plenty of water. Fido may not always tell you when he is thirsty and thus can become dehydrated. Signs include dry mouth, gums and nose, eyes that appear sunken, panting and noisy breathing. Dehydration can be serious and may require immediate medical attention.
An accident can happen in the blink of an eye if you are not paying proper attention to operating your boat. With a little sensible preparation, you can help Fido adjust to the boating experience the first time out so that you can concentrate on your own safety and that of everyone else on board.