Must-Have Accessories to Bring Your Dog Boating

Summer ushers in warm temperatures, pleasant breezes and abundant sunshine, encouraging people and their pets to spend more time outdoors. Many people participate in water activities during the summer, like boating. There's nothing quite like the refreshing feeling of water splashing on you or admiring its mesmerizing blue. And, for many people, summer wouldn't be fun without their furry best friends.

Check out this article to learn about dogs and their relationship to water and what accessories you need to take your pet boating. 

Must-Have Accessories to Bring Your Dog Boating

Dogs and Their Ability to Swim

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are natural swimmers. Most dog breeds that can't swim have specific characteristics. For example, brachycephalic breeds — dogs with short snouts or flat faces — can't swim because water can enter their noses and cause them to drown. Other reasons dogs can't swim include: 

  • Cold water shock
  • Long bodies and short legs
  • Large, barrel-shaped bodies
  • Thick double coats
  • Long coats

Here are the top 10 dog breeds that should avoid swimming:

  1. Bulldogs: Bulldogs have three risk factors — flat faces, barrel-shaped bodies and short legs. It's challenging and tiring for them to try to swim, and so they're at a greater risk of drowning.
  2. Basset hounds: Basset hounds have large heads and short legs, making it difficult for them to stay afloat. Their large, floppy ears are also prone to infections if water enters their ear canals.
  3. Pugs: Pugs have flat faces that are challenging to keep above water. To keep their heads above the surface, they often have to tilt it back too far, causing their rear end to lower too much into the water.
  4. Boxers: These large, athletic dogs have flat faces like pugs. They must fight to keep their heads above water, tiring themselves out.
  5. Bull terriers: Bull terriers have short legs and a deep chest, making staying afloat a challenge. Staffordshire bull terriers may also have difficulty swimming because of their oversized heads and heavy muscles.
  6. Dachshunds: Dachshunds are notorious for their long bodies and short legs. These features make them struggle to swim, even in shallow water.
  7. Corgis: Corgis have long bodies, barrel-shaped chests and short legs, making them poor swimmers. But most corgis love water, so letting them splash in the shallows is usually safe.
  8. Shih Tzus: Shih Tzus have long coats that weigh them down and short snouts and legs. All these features make it hard for them to keep their nose and mouths out of the water and breathe when swimming. They can also become cold if they're in the water for too long.
  9. Malteses: Malteses have trouble adapting to the water's cold. They also have full coats and small chests that make them prone to chills, arthritis and rheumatism.
  10. Chow chows: These larger dogs have deep chests, short legs and flat muzzles. They can experience shortness of breath when swimming and their coats can weigh them down.

Whether you have one of the above breeds or a dog known for its affinity for water, it's important to monitor and supervise your pets when they are around bodies of water.

Risks to Avoid When Boating With Dogs

While dogs are man's best friend, water isn't always their best friend. Here are some of the risk factors involved with taking your dog boating.

1. Heat Stroke 

The summer heat poses a risk of causing heat stroke in dogs as well as humans. Dogs are sensitive to heat because their sweat glands aren't effective at cooling them off. 

Dogs have two sweat glands — merocrine and apocrine. Merocrine sweat glands are primarily in the paws. When a dog is hot or nervous, the sweat releases a small amount of body heat through the paw pads. Apocrine glands are throughout the dog's body but produce pheromones instead of releasing heat. 

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke can develop quickly in dogs. Watch for signs like heavy panting, excessive drooling and skin that's hot to the touch. Use cool — but not ice-cold — water to reduce your dog's body temperature.

2. Sunburn

Dogs with thin skin, pink skin or thin fur are at a higher risk of sunburn, but any dog can become sunburned. If they get sunburned, they can be at an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

3. Drowning

As mentioned above, not all dogs are good swimmers. If a dog falls into the water accidentally, it might panic and become exhausted. A dog with a short nose or flat face can aspirate and drown, and heavy dogs may be unable to climb out of the water without assistance.

4. Seawater

If dogs consume a large amount of salt water, they're at risk for salt poisoning. A dog with salt poisoning may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. Other signs to watch out for, which might indicate a more serious condition, include weakness, muscle tremors and seizures. 

The most important way to prevent salt poisoning is to ensure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water. Keep a bowl handy and offer your dog plenty of water when you're out on the boat.

5. Dehydration

Dogs become dehydrated when they lose more fluid than they take in. The hot temperatures of summer can cause dehydration in dogs. When dogs become dehydrated, they also lose their electrolytes.

6. Algae Poisoning

Blue-green algae blooms in lakes, seas and streams, but only some species are toxic. A dog can suffer from algae poisoning if it drinks or swims in toxic water. Algae poisoning symptoms occur soon after exposure and are often fatal. Contaminated water may have algae blooms or be a different color.

7. Insect Bites

Bites and stings from insects like wasps or mosquitoes can be itchy and sore or cause allergic reactions. If a dog suffers from numerous insect bites simultaneously, it can develop a severe allergic reaction. 

Anytime you spend an extended period of time outdoors, you should check your dog for ticks, as they can carry diseases. A monthly topical medication can serve as an important preventative measure.

8 Must-Have Accessories for Boating With Your Dog

When you take your dog boating, you need the right accessories to keep them safe and happy. Check out this list of the top eight dog boat accessories for your best friend.

8 Must-Have Accessories for Boating With Your Dog

1. Life Jacket

As far as dog accessories for boats go, this one is the most crucial. Personal floatation devices or life jackets for your dog can prevent drowning. All dogs need life jackets — whether they're good or bad swimmers. Currents and winds could be stronger than expected and wear your dog out. Additionally, a dog that accidentally falls overboard is liable to panic and tire itself out. 

As long as your dog has a life jacket, it can stay safe. When shopping for a suitable floatation device, you'll want to check the following: 

  • Buoyancy: Buoyancy is the life jacket's ability to float. You'll need to choose one with a buoyancy strong enough to handle your dog's weight.
  • Color: Choose a life jacket with reflective material in a bright color. If your dog falls overboard, the bright color allows you to find them easier, especially in dark or murky water.
  • Handles: If you must haul your dog out of the water, you need to ensure the handles are strong enough to support your dog's weight. Test the life jacket handles before bringing your dog boating.
  •  Fit: Ensure the vest fits properly so it's safe and comfortable for them to move around in.

2. Boat Ramp or Ladder

Pet boat ramps are safe, reliable methods for getting your dog into and out of the boat and car. Many dogs become tired after swimming and may injure or bruise themselves trying to jump onto the boat. When shopping for a boat ramp or ladder, consider these factors: 

  • How much weight it needs to support and whether humans and animals will be using it
  • The width of your boat opening
  • Your dog's strength and ability to climb up the ramp
  • Where you plan to store a ramp on your boat when it's not in use

3. Travel Bowls

Always provide your dog with access to clean, fresh water and food. Water prevents your dog from becoming dehydrated. Bodies of water, like lakes and the ocean, can harbor harmful bacteria, so you don't want your pet to drink from them. But you need specialized pet bowls that can withstand the sharp turns, winds, choppy waters and waves without spilling and making a mess.

Here are our three top picks for high-quality pet bowls perfect for boating:

  1. Collapsible bowls: Need to save space on your boat? Do you have an active, adventurous pup? A collapsible bowl is the perfect way to ensure your dog stays hydrated on the go. You can extend it and fill it when your dog needs a drink, and then fold it back up into an easy-to-transport design. Some models even come with clips to attach to a belt or keychain.
  2. Stackable bowls: If you're planning a full day on the water, you will probably need to feed your dog while you're out on the boat. Use stackable bowls so you have one for food and another for water — when you're done for the day, you can easily stack them up and store them for the next trip.
  3. Spill-proof bowls: With the rocking of the boat, it's likely there will be some spills. Luckily, they make spill-proof bowls that attach to a larger reservoir of water so your dog's drink bowl doesn't empty whenever there's a big wave.

4. Bed or Mat

It's essential to provide your dog with a place to rest because they become tired from being in the sun and water, but traditional dog beds consist of plush fabric that can retain water. These beds can also slide around on the deck. Instead of a conventional dog bed, you can purchase a unique one to take with you or store on your boat. 

When looking for a dog bed for your boat, look for one that is:

  • Waterproof: Water can splash onto the deck, or your wet dog might lie on the bed, so you need a waterproof bed to prevent moisture damage.
  • Grippers: Look for beds that have grippers that suction to your deck so it doesn't slide around.
  • Foldable: Foldable beds are lightweight and easier to carry and store.
  • Canopy: Canopies provide your dog with sun protection and a place to cool off.

A waterproof dog mat isa great alternative to a dog bed, providing a bit of cushion and a designated space for your pup to relax. Dog mats with a non-slip bottom surface won't slide on your deck. Be sure to choose a mat bigger than your dog so it can stretch out and get comfy.

5. Sunscreen

Pets can become sunburned anywhere. But they're prone to sunburn on their ears, noses and stomachs. A hairless pet or one with a thin coat is also at an increased risk of sunburn. Protecting your pet from the sun's UV rays is crucial because overexposure may cause skin cancer. However, you have to use a special formula for dogs since they tend to lick themselves clean.


Like human sunscreen, dog sunscreen comes in both lotion and spray varieties. You can find ones with extra moisturizing properties, like shea butter or coconut oil, which are both safe for dogs to consume in small amounts. Apply sunscreen to your dog's coat, concentrating your efforts on any areas of exposed skin, especially on their ears and nose.

6. Cooling Pad

Boats become hot, even if you're not directly under the sun. Dogs can overheat quickly, and heat stroke can be deadly, so providing them with ways to cool down is vital. A cooling pad is one of the best ways to help your dog cool off. 

7. First Aid Kit

First aid kits are necessary in case of an emergency. You need a first aid kit for yourself and other passengers, including your dog. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), your dog's first aid kit should include:

  • Alcohol wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment 
  • Artificial tear gel
  • Blunt scissors
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Disposable gloves
  • Flashlight
  • Gauze
  • Hot spot spray
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Ice pack
  • Oral syringe
  • Saline eye solution
  • Styptic powder
  • Towels
  • Tweezers

8. Toys

Dogs are energetic and love to play. Choosing durable, waterproof toys that can keep your pup entertained prevents them from wreaking havoc aboard your ship or feeling anxious. Something floatable, like a foam ball, is perfect for a game of catch in the water. If your dog prefers to chill on board, you might offer them a durable rubber chew toy filled with peanut butter or their favorite treats to engage them during the ride.

Shop Boating Supplies and Accessories at Fawcett Boat Supplies

Shop Boating Supplies and Accessories at Fawcett Boat Supplies

Going out for a boating trip with your family, friends and man's best friend is the definition of a good time. You can enhance your experience on the water with the right boating supplies and accessories.

At Fawcett Boat Supplies, we have everything you need for a good and safe time. We have pet floatation devices, first-aid kits, clothing, outdoor accessories, safety equipment and much more. Browse our inventory online or contact us today if you have any questions!

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