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Summer is here, and we all know what that means:  time to break out the boat and hit the river!  Boating is great fun for the whole family, including a growing number of family pets, but before you head out for your first summer adventure there are a number of factors to consider.  These will help keep your furry friend safe and comfortable while you’re having fun!

First, invest in a doggy life jacket.  Just as with human life jackets, these devices help your dog keep his head above the water and support him until you can reach him.  Bright colors are the easiest to spot.  Be sure to get a good, comfortable fit; dogs have been known to chew through chafing straps on ill-fitting jackets.

Consider an inflatable boat ladder for your dog.  These devices make returning to the boat after a swim much easier, and can help immensely in case a larger dog falls overboard.

Before setting out, get your dog acclimated to the boat.  While still at home, let your dog walk around inside and sniff the boat.  Give him treats, toys and affection there, so that entering the boat becomes a promise of fun times in the near future!

A nonslip surface on the deck of the boat will help your dog – and you! – keep your footing if the floor gets wet.

Plan ahead for a fall out of the boat.  Like practicing a fire drill, rehearsing the steps for rescuing your pooch will help keep everyone calm in case of an accident.

Bring along a pet first aid kit to deal with scrapes and other minor injuries that may be sustained on the water.  Don’t forget to keep a supply of any medications your dog may be taking, in case an emergency keeps you away from home longer than you anticipated.  Keep vet records in a dry box in case they are needed.

Like people, some dogs experience seasickness.  This is a relatively common problem, and if you are committed to traveling on the water with your pet, your veterinarian should be able to prescribe an anti-nausea medicine to make boating more comfortable.

Always pack extra drinking water – for your dog, as well as for each human member of the crew.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure everyone has a great time out on the water!

By Amber Evans

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