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Sailing with Pets: Everything You Need to Know

Sailing with Pets: Everything You Need to Know

Credit: Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

People love to take their pets with them everywhere these days – the grocery store, breweries, even on vacation. However, if you’re planning on sailing with your four-legged pet, the preparation is more extensive than for a mere road trip. 

Sailing with a cat might be an odd choice since cats notoriously hate water. But dogs are great sailing companions, despite their lack of opposable thumbs needed to raise the sail. 

Gather Documents Needed if Traveling International Waters

Laws vary from country-to-country on pet-related topics such as vaccinations and quarantines. Make sure you have all your ducks in a row or your pup may spend your entire trip in quarantine. 

Many countries require pets to be microchipped. The idea of a pet’s information implanted beneath their skin may seem a little sci-fi. However, it’s extremely effective in reuniting lost pets and their owners. 

Vaccinations rules are also different in different areas of the world. In general, the vaccinations must be given 30 days before travel, so you need to plan a little in advance if you have a pet on board. 

The question of preparation aside, focus now turns to care for them in the middle of the waters. Once your pet is on board, how do you keep them safe and dry?

Keeping Your Pet Safe On Board

You can’t just toss your furry pal on board and set sail into the great wide open. Pets need to be slowly introduced to new activities for their own safety. A regular ramp to get on and off the boat will get too slippery for pet’s paws to gain traction. 

A mat of some kind can ensure your pet won’t slip off the ramp and fall into the water. But at some point, your pet will likely get into the water, either by accident or on purpose. Pet life vests are an absolute must. Even if your pet takes to water like a fish, they can still get spooked or panic or end up in the water in the event of a capsize. 

If you’re sailing on a beautiful, warm day, your pet should be good to dry off in the sun. But what about cloudy, chilly days? Don’t forget to use a dog dryer to dry their wet fur. 

Practical Care for Sailing Pets

Credit: Photo by Diego Muñoz Suárez on Unsplash

There are everyday, practical issues that need to be addressed before setting sail with your pet. Where will they go to the bathroom? What will they do while you’re sunbathing on the beach? 

You will need to set up a small patch of grass or similar for your dog’s potty breaks. However, the pet will need to be trained to use it, preferably before they are stuck on a boat with no escape. 

While dogs are more sociable than cats, they still need a place to relax. An area on the boat set up with bedding, toys, blankets or a large crate can give your pets their own space to get away from it all. A vacation from vacation, if you will. 

Dogs, in particular, need more attention than cats. That includes playtime. Your plan may be to set sail to an exotic beach where you can laze the days away, but your dog will have other ideas. 

Packing a few of your pup’s favorite toys can keep them occupied while you’re sunning yourself. However, ingesting too much sand can be harmful to dogs. It’s essential to keep an eye on your pet even when you’re meant to be relaxing. 

Pets Can Enjoy Sailing When Properly Trained

Credit: Photo by Iewek Gnos on Unsplash

Pets are great companions. That’s why everyone wants to take their pet with them everywhere. However, pets are often unsure about new places, activities, and environments. 

You can’t just throw your pet into the water and expect them to know how to swim. Nor can you toss them onto a sailboat and expect them to be happy about it. 

Sure, some pets may be happy just to be near their human, but not most pets. Slowly introducing your pet to any new activity ensures their safety and happiness. 


Leo Wilson graduated from a university major in animal health and behavior. He had over a decade of experience working in the pet industry and has contributed many dogs and pet-related articles to several websites before he decided to start sharing his knowledge on his own blog. And when he is not busy working, he and his wonderful wife love spending time at home with their 3 dogs and 2 cats.

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