Living with Pets on a Boat
Dogs take to the water so well that a whole new economy has sprung up surrounding canines and boats. They’ve got their own ladders and life jackets now. And it’s a good thing, because lots of boaters want to take Fido with them, wherever they go.
Cats are also quite content onboard. And you won’t have to worry about any mice or other small mammals coming onto your boat with a cat around!
All animals living aboard should have an ID tag, or better yet, a microchip in case you head into more exotic waters and your pet isn’t wearing its collar. A microchip is about the size of a piece of rice and can be scanned in most parts of the world. ID tags or microchips should have a number where you can be reached when you’re afloat and another land based number, perhaps a friend or relative.
Cats and dogs should wear life jackets when you’re travelling. Even if your pet is a good swimmer, going overboard suddenly can be a panicky experience. Most animal PFDs have a handle on top, making it easier to get your pet out of the water either by hand or with a hook. Life jackets range in price from $20 to $100.
Dogs: It’s possible to train your dog to do its business on a piece of Astroturf when it’s not possible to get to land. You can let your dogs know it’s okay to go on the turf by scenting it with a bit of their own urine. Other people let their dogs ‘go’ on the bow and toss a bucket of water on the boat to rinse things off. Small dogs have smaller messes and some people train little dogs to use the litter box, like their feline friends.
Cats: Obviously, a litter box is the way to go. For the more determined boat who owns a clever cat, train your kitty to use the marine head. It can be done, but requires a lot of patience and cooperation.