5 Things You Need to Know Before Sailing with a Dog
Dogs are very much part of a family. But how does it work when you decide to take your dog boating on a long-distance trip? The K9 Traveller talks to Australian sailor and dog lover Wendy Martin for the answers. Wendy and Tony are sailing from Townsville down the east coast of Australia with Taffy, their much-loved furball.
These two dog lovers have been sailing for most of their lives and the thought of not seeing Taffy for months was too hard to bear. Wendy provides her five best tips and explains how they planned for their first long distance sail with Taffy, their K9 Traveller.
Over to Wendy…
This sailing trip certainly combines the two. Remember that we are not intending to travel outside of Australian waters. A LOT of planning and thought goes into a sea voyage particularly if you plan to sail with a pet. Your pet needs to be included in the planning, right from the outset. It is important that you let your pet set the pace as to what they are capable of and comfortable with. Ours is a small chocolate Moodle dog, and her preference (and mine) is for relatively calm seas and not too much wind or wave action. We aim to be anchored each night and after any long days at sea, to have a few days at anchor.
1. Protecting Your K9 Traveller
Pets can be bitten by insects that carry diseases and are susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer. Short fur and lightly coloured coats are at greater danger of skin cancer and sunburn. Pay extra attention to ears, the nose and where fur is thin. Be aware of ticks and heartworm in Australia – if your dog is not on heartworm and tick medication. Heartworm diseases are carried by mosquitoes and prevalent, especially in the northern parts of Australia and mangrove areas.
The dog product Advantix kills fleas and ticks on contact and repels ticks, mosquitoes and sandflies. Specially formulated insect sprays and sunscreen lotions are available for pets. Your veterinarian is the best person to recommend the appropriate vaccinations and relevant dog products. Make sure these are up to date before you go as your dog will be exposed to all sorts of dangers and diseases in public spaces during your adventures ashore.
2. Dog Seasickness, Anxiety Remedies and Grooming
Your vet can advise on seasickness or anxiety-reducing practises and medications. Our Moodle has been a good sailor in the past, but we suspect she had a nasty experience with builders at our home before this sea journey and is a little more anxious now. We have got her an Adaptil calm-on-the-go collar and Pet Rescue Remedy, a natural anti-anxiety and lavender oil to try. We also invested in a Hidez canine compression anxiety suit that has been proven to reduce the anxiety in dogs by over 85%.
It is a good idea to pack an excellent all-round antibiotic/antifungal cream and ear care products.
Your dog will love rolling in the sand on the beach so a quick rinse off in the sea will help preserve the water onboard. Washing off the saltwater and drying your dog’s coat is essential so take a couple of super absorbent microfiber towels for this. If your pet has particular grooming requirements, then take your grooming kit to keep your pet looking good and comfortable.
Your pet will mostly just want to be near you, so a yacht is perfect for them as you are rarely out of sight range. Remember to take a sample of your dog’s favourite things – waterproof bedding, comforts, toys etc. A waterproof car seat protector is ideal for protecting boat cushions from being spoiled by a wet dog.
3. Dog Water Safety
Teaching your dog to swim prior to sailing away into the sunset could save its life. Although the exact number of dog drownings is unknown in Australia, dog drownings are a common cause of dog deaths in this country.
The waterproof netting on the rails of our yacht is invaluable in not worrying about our dog when she is on deck. It has also saved a few hats, cameras, phones etc. Having to contend with limited storage, safety netting ensures that you can carefully throw a ball or an item without either of them going overboard. Our dog’s life vest and boat ramp for dogs are invaluable for the transfer from the yacht to dingy to beach and vice versa. The life jacket even comes with a handle that you can use to lift her.
Wet weather gear like dog raincoats are available for dogs so take a look at what you might need in those ranges. Some pets will require non-slip socks or shoes on the deck to protect timberwork from scratching. Common problems like this can be easily solved on Google and forum sites like Quora.
4. Doggy Hazards
It is important you provide lots of opportunities to get out of the sun and heat and encourage your pet to drink water. Be aware of hazards on land as well as onboard such as fishing gear, sharp objects in the water and beach areas. A misadventure with any of these will be traumatic for all involved, and a vet is going to be a long way away. Packing a dedicated pet medical kit can be helpful for those minor injuries and mishaps.
When docking or in an extreme weather event, you should have a secure, safe, place where you can put your pet. Ensuring that your pet can obey command words or hand signals would be fantastic – ours is still to navigate some of this though. Most pets will sleep a lot so boredom shouldn’t really be a problem.
5. Peeing & Pooping!
Our Moodle preference is that she goes to shore to deposit her waste material, so that is what we aim to continue to do. We have a patch of AstroTurf up at the bow that she uses in an emergency and we manage clean ups with earth-friendly poop bags. Plan your pets’ diet as carefully as you plan your own and provision accordingly. The last thing you want aboard a boat is a dog with diarrhoea!
Connecting with Others in the Same Boat
There are a lot of cruising sites and Facebook groups with loads of useful information and tips on travelling with pets’ onboard boats. Join these, and you will gain access to lots of valuable information and learn where all the pet-friendly places are ashore.
Having Taffy onboard has brought more joy than we could have ever imagined. She is a wonderful companion and we have made friends of strangers along the way, just by having Taffy with us.
K9 Traveller is a dog travel business and brainchild of Donna Martin, the Progressive Traveller. Donna’s love of travel started at 17, when she won her first international trip to Japan for selling the most Seiko watches in Australia. She has continued to travel the world ever since. Her passion for storytelling and travel journaling is how the Progressive Traveller business began. In November 2019, Donna will expanded her love of travel and dogs by launching the dog-friendly website, K9 Traveller.
Today, people are travelling more and taking their dogs with them. Travelling with a dog doesn’t have to be complex. Here at K9 Traveller, we source the best quality K9 friendly products to enhance your adventures with your dog. Our products are chosen for comfort and safety with a focus on dog health. These dog products solve common problems experienced by outdoor loving dog owners and their dogs. The K9 Traveller mission is to enable you to explore the great outdoors by supplying you and your dog with practical gear that is ideal for any type of travel. We want your dog to look good, keep fit and enjoy a happier life with you.
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