Boating Safety

Boating Safety

According to the American Humane Association, one-third of American households take their dog along on family vacations. And, if your trip includes the water -- whether you’re going fishing or just enjoying a ride on the boat -- there’s never an excuse for anyone on board a boat, regardless if they have two legs or four, not to wear a life jacket.
Written by Rachel Johnson | Photo courtesy of Ruffwear
The National Safe Boating Council is the lead partner for the annual boating safety campaign, Wear It! We believe it’s important for all boaters (even pets) to remember you can still have a great time boating while choosing to always wear a life jacket and boat responsibly. Keep these safety tips in mind.

You are responsible for everyone on board—two- and four-legged.
Before setting off for your trip, make sure everyone understands basic boating safety and is wearing a life jacket. For a dog, know if he can swim and how he’ll react to loud noises. Give the pet time to become familiar with the boat without distractions. If it’s the pet’s first time, keep the trip short so they can gradually get used to the boat’s movement.

Everyone, even pets, should have a properly fitting life jacket.
A life jacket that is too large or too small can cause situational problems. For your family and friends, make sure everyone’s life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Life jackets for humans are not meant for pets.

For your pet make sure the life jacket fits properly. Pet owners should consider taking their pet with them to the store to try on the life jacket before buying, but be sure to call ahead to make sure that’s okay. Also, be sure you know your pet’s weight to check the weight limits of the life jacket.

Be considerate of your pet’s needs, and bring plenty of fresh water.
Make sure to bring plenty of fresh drinking water for your pet. It can get very hot while boating. Also, make sure your pet has a shaded area, such as under an umbrella. Remember, the boat’s surface can get very hot in the sun. Protect your pet’s feet, because the pads on their feet may burn.

Don’t forget to have fun while boating safely.
Pets will love spending time with family and friends on your boat. Just like for children on board, bring along toys for the pet to play with while boating. Want to make sure you’re choosing the best toy for a day on the water? Test it out to make sure it floats.

Rachel Johnson is executive director of the National Safe Boating Council, the lead organization for the North American Safe Boating Campaign, which is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information, visit

As Seen on Q13 Fox News...Our Picks of the Litter for Water Safety and Fun!

Watch the full Q13 Fox News interview here.

The Ruffwear Float Coat is the ultimate in canine flotation and water safety. For dogs that love to join their humans rafting, kayaking, boating, surfing and paddle boarding, this life jacket is designed for dogs of all shapes and sizes. This is a premium, fully-featured life jacket that includes thoughtful details like a strong handle, optimally positioned to lift dogs out of the water, and reflective trim for enhanced visibility in or out of the water.

The Ruffwear Jet Stream efficiently cools dogs during light and fast, high-intensity adventures through shading and evaporative cooling. In warm climates, dogs typically stay cool by seeking shade in the heat of the day. The light and sleek Jet Stream uses shade-providing spandex over the back, while Ruffwear’s three-layer evaporative cooling chest panel disperses heat from the dog’s core. To activate the Jet Stream, soak in water, wring out, zip on your dog, and go.

Pack Orvis' lightweight, rugged nylon canvas dog travel bag with enough dog food for day trips or weekend jaunts. The Dog Traveler's Kit contains three smartly designed polypropylene-lined inner chambers: a large, airtight bag for storing 4-5 lbs. of dry dog food and two smaller vessels that serve as easy cleanup water and food bowls. Expandable pocket, mesh pockets, and zip pocket in lid hold treats, leashes, small towels, or other travel accessories.

The Adventure Dog Series medical kit has comprehensive first aid solutions to keep both you and your four-legged hiking buddy safe on all your adventures together. It features human and canine first aid essentials including an emergency blanket to treat shock and hypothermia, emergency cold pack to reduce swelling of sprains, irrigation syringe to effectively clean wounds, a splinter picker, bandages, and more. For $50, it’s well worth your pooch’s safety and your peace of mind.

Protect your dog from harmful UV rays with Epi-Pet Sun Protector Sunscreen. It's only FDA compliant sunscreen for dogs, with a non greasy, quick dry formula that is safe if licked after applied. Perfect for a day at the beach or out on the boat, it's water and sweat resistant.

Turn any plastic soda bottle into a portable shower, with the Mud Dog Travel Shower. It simply screws onto most plastic bottles to create a quick, convenient shower to clean off a playful puppy after a romp on the beach.

Dry off your soggy doggy with the Tall Tails Cape Towel. After a day of playing in the water, your dog won’t want to sit still to dry off. This towel has a collar with Velcro fastener to wrap around your pet’s neck and is built with two hand pockets for more control for quick drying. Created with terry fiber material, it's 50% more absorbent than cotton.

Boating is better when you’ve got your best friend along for the trip and this super soft Never Boat Alone tee shirt from Dog is Good says it loud and proud.
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