Sailing with pets is becoming more and more common these days! If your pets are part of your family, you might feel you can’t leave them behind – and rightly so – but do not fear, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Gaining your own sea legs can be tricky so it is even harder for your four-legged friend, but there is lots you can do to help them feel settled.
So, start by spend some time encouraging your pet to safely board and exit the boat, if they are big enough that you cannot carry them yourself. You could look at a ramp, or steps to help your dog comfortably join you on-board. Then, you should create or locate some safe areas on board the boat for your pet to feel comfortable, when there is rough weather or you need them away safely.
So, once your pet is happy on board then you can start sailing and having them on board whilst you are underway! The sad news is though, is that seasickness and anxiety can also affect our pets as well as us so if you find your pet is having issues with this, you should contact your vet for help and advice.
Now you might be wondering, if we are out at sea how will my pet do their ‘business’? Well, this is a good question. Cats can be reasonably easy as you can obtain a litter box, and use biodegradable litter, but dogs can be trickier. Some dog owners mount a square of grass AstroTurf on the deck!
In terms of safety on board, you must have tethers and lifejackets for your pet and you should have spares as well in case of an emergency. Therefore your pet should always be tethered securely whilst you are under sail and keep a pet-friendly first aid box too in case of any cuts and scrapes.
If your pets are struggling in hotter climes, you can use cooling mats or pads, and wet towels to help to keep them cool, and you can protect your pet from the sun using pet-friendly sunblock too. You must also ensure you have a tag on your pets’ collar with your boat details and contact information! And this is so important when travelling, as your pet will not have any bearings to be able to find you if they are lost.
Sailing with your pet, whilst wonderful, comes with lots of different things to think about and consider, so this is just the very start! There are all kinds of requirements for identification, medical information and vaccinations which vary from country to country so you should always plan ahead for your pet and check whether they will be able to successfully enter a country.
If you can iron out all the details and make it work, having a pet on board can be incredibly rewarding and so enjoyable for them too. If you have a pet sailing with you, please send us a photo, we’d love to see!