How to Keep Dog Cool on a Boat

How to Keep Dog Cool on a Boat

Does your furry friend love the water? You need to help them stay cool and comfortable when boating. 

Being on the water with dogs and cats can be a blast for families who love boating. But you only reap the benefits when you keep the pets safe and calm. 

Otherwise, your pet won’t enjoy the experience, and the cruising trip may end with an emergency trip to the vet. 

Keep in mind that a heat stroke can cause breathing difficulties and make a dog collapse.

Spending a summer day out on the waters with your dog exposes both of you to the scorching sun. Without adequate protection, you are likely to regret being out on a hot day.

And if the lake or ocean temperature and humidity make you feel uncomfortable, imagine how hot it feels for your sweet pet, covered in a fur coat. It must be dreadful, right?

One thing that has been very helpful to us when boating with our pup is keeping some fresh water in our dog’s water bowl.

We use the Lixit Travel Water Bowl to keep the water cool and prevent messy spills as the pet drinks. 

If you want to keep your dog safe and ensure that they have much fun on a boat, here is a detailed guide to help you keep your dog cool when boating.

Tips on How to Keep Your Furry Friend Cool on Your Boat

Tips on How to Keep Your Furry Friend Cool on Your Boat

#1. Give Him a Proper Groom  

Since your dog lacks sweat glands and their body is covered in a coat of fur, they feel the heat several times hotter than you do. 

And there is not much they can actually do to help themselves other than stick their tongue out. 

While most dogs shed their winter fur on their own, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need help staying cool during hot days. 

You can use a dog clipper to closely trim their excess fur before bringing them on a boat. 

Cutting and brushing off excess fur from your dog will ensure that it traps less heat when out on the sun, hence cooling them down. 

We use the Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool to groom our Chinook. It really helps keep him calm and ensures that there is no fur everywhere on the boat. 

If you don’t want to trim your dog’s coat, you can always take it to a professional dog groomer who can safely do it at a reasonable price. 

#2. Set Up a Shade 

If you don’t have a Bimini top on your pontoon boat, you and your dog are exposed to the hot sun during your adventure. 

And while the direct sunlight may not have terrible effects on you, it overheats your dog, making it feel quite uncomfortable. 

So, you need to provide some shade to protect your lovely pet from the harsh weather.

Depending on the size of your boat, you can bring a small house for your pup like the Elevated Portable Pet House. It will give your dog a cozy shelter as you enjoy boating. 

Bimini tops are the best way to have a good shade on a pontoon boat, but you can still make a simple covering with an umbrella or sheet. 

If it’s not possible to make a shady spot for your best friend on the boat, keep reading to see more safety tips on how to keep a dog cool on a boat. 

#3. Buy Him a Cooling Vest 

A cooling vest is a perfect option if you are looking for a simple and efficient way to keep your dog cool when boating under the harsh sun. 

Cooling vests specifically designed for hot weather use shade and evaporating cooling techniques to keep dogs comfortable and happy on a boat. 

Instead of absorbing heat, it reflects the hot sun rays, leaving the dog much cooler and relaxed. 

We bought the Ruffwear Jet Stream Dog Cooling Vest for our dog to use on windy days when we don’t have the Bimini set up. 

While I envisioned the Jet Stream cooling vest as a backup solution when we have limited shade on the boat, it has turned out to be an excellent coolant for our best friend. 

So, he wears it nearly all the time when we go out for a boating adventure. It’s actually one of the best accessories we have bought for our pet. 

Another impressive thing about the cooling vest is that it’s lightweight and easy to use on a boat trip. It doesn’t inhibit his movement or comfort in any way. 

#4. Get a Wet Face Mask

Another easy and effective way to keep your dog cool on a boat is a wet face mask. It’s a perfect solution for dogs who love being on the bow as boats run. 

If your dog enjoys being on the bow to see what’s going on and watch the waves, it can be hard to make him stay under the Bimini top. 

In such cases, you can wet a face mask and stick it to the freezer or fridge for a few hours before the cruising trip. 

Then make your dog wear the cold mask to keep him cool under direct sunlight. To extend the cooling, you can keep dunking the mask in the water as it melts. 

This method works well when paired with other solutions like providing a shade for the pup. 

#5. Invest in a Gel Cooling Mat for Your Dog to Lie on

If your pup likes laying on the boat when sailing, you may want to buy him a gel cooling mat. It’s essentially a pressure-activated mat designed to cool dogs for about three hours. 

When your dog gets up after laying on the cooling pad for several hours, it will take about 15 to 20 minutes for the mat to recharge and cool down. 

And there is no need to soak the mat in the water or keep it in the refrigerator as it automatically returns to the cold temperature. 

The gel cooling mat is effective when kept in the shade. So, you can keep it under the Bimini top or any other area in your boat that has some shade. 

Then your best friend will lay on it whenever they need a chilled sensation. You don’t have to worry about storing it when not in use as it’s incredibly lightweight and folds to a small pad for easy storage. 

#6. Provide Your Dog with a Constant Supply of  Cold Fresh Water 

#6. Provide Your Dog with a Constant Supply of  Cold Fresh Water

One of the essential factors for cooling a dog down is keeping it hydrated. You need to ensure that your pup has a constant water supply in its bowl throughout the boat trip. 

So, does this mean that you can simply fetch some seawater and top up the bowl? Well, not really…

Like humans, dogs can get sick from drinking salty seawater. Even the lake or river water in your local area is likely to have contamination due to high nitrate levels. 

The safest way to keep your dog hydrated is by bringing some fresh water on board. We use a travel water bowl that keeps the water cool and prevents splashing as our dog drinks. 

It’s a safe way to have enough water for your dog while still keeping your boat’s surface neat and dry. Otherwise, you’ll risk having to deal with a slippery deck.  

If you don’t have a cooling bowl, you can still keep some water bottles in a cooler box to keep the fresh water chilled. 

I’ve also heard about other boaters who use steel bowls to keep their dog water cold for an extended time. You just need to keep the bowl in a shaded area or add a few ice cubes to maintain the temperature.

#7. Cool Your Dog with a Water Spray

Another practical tip for keeping your dog cool when it gets hot on a boat is using a water spray. 

It’s a cheap and easy method since you just need to get a small plant water sprayer with a fine mist and fill it with cold water. 

My kids love this part of our boat adventure, so I leave them in charge of giving our pup a spritz whenever needed. 

If you want something that will cool the water down and give a chilled mist, you can get a Hand fan Portable Misting Fan

#8. Protect the Paws from Burns 

Whether sailing or just walking along the beach with your family, you expose your dog’s delicate paws to the hot vinyl or sand. 

Paw pad burns can be painful for your dog, so you need to avoid them and keep your dog safe. 

Luckily, there are easy ways to care for your dog’s paws and save them from unnecessary pain. You can simply install carpet flooring on the deck. 

If that sounds expensive, you can lay some cheap towels or sheets down on the vinyl flooring to protect your dog’s paws. 

You may also consider buying a paw balm to keep your dog’s paws smooth and healthy when boating in the hot weather. 

#9. Let Your Dog Jump into the Water and Play 

Last but not least, you can simply let your furry friend jump into the water and play around. After all, you didn’t bring your playful pet to sit or lay on the boat the whole time. 

Nonetheless, you need to wait until you find a safe place for your dog to jump in and swim around.

And, of course, for your peace of mind, your dog should wear a life jacket to keep him afloat if he gets tired of swimming but still wants to play in the water. 

You also need to train him when to jump and how to do it. Otherwise, he might think it’s okay to jump into the water whenever the boat stops.

Then set up a boat ladder or ramp for your pup to get back on board safely.  



Q: How Do You Travel with a Dog on a Boat?

A: To travel with a dog on a boat, you need to keep them comfortable. And there is no better way of doing this than keeping them cool and bringing their favorite toys on board. 

You also need to train them how to pee on a boat and pack adequate food and snacks for your friendly Fido to keep him satisfied all day long. 

Q: How Do You Calm a Dog on a Boat?

A: The most effective way to calm your dog on a boat is through training. You can praise them and encourage them with dog treats whenever they get near the boat. 

For dogs that get terrified when the boat engine starts, you can train them to get used to the loud noise and let them know that it won’t harm them whatsoever. 

If your dog hesitates or shows some kind of fear, don’t force them or drag them onto the boat. Instead, consider training them patiently, and they will soon stay calm on the boat. 

Q: Is It Safe to Take a Dog on a Boat?

A: Yes, it’s perfectly safe to take a dog on a boat, provided you have the required boating gear for your friendly pet. 

Some of the most important things to bring when boating with your dog include a dog life jacket, boat ramp or ladder, and fresh drinking water to cool him down. 

It would also help if you put a fake grass mat on your boat’s deck and train your dog how to pee on a boat when cruising. 

Along with a fake grass mat, deck covers are crucial when bringing pets on board to protect their paws and keep them comfortable. 

Q: Can You Cool a Dog with Water?

A: Yes, you can cool a dog with water, and there are several ways to do it. If your dog’s body temperature goes high, you can provide them with cold drinking water. 

Alternatively, you can spray your dog some cold water to cool him down or simply let him jump into the water to swim and lower the body temperature. 

Wrap Up

Wrap Up

Having a pet onboard can be a sensational and enjoyable experience for you and your family. 

However, the boating trip can end in tears if you don’t keep your dog cool during the adventure. The last thing you want on a lovely summer day is to cut the trip short and take your dog to the vet. 

I hope that the tips we shared above will help you keep your dog cool and comfortable when boating.

Feel free to try out the recommended gear, from toys to cooling mats, as we’ve used them for our pets as well. Most people also give positive feedback after using these dog accessories. 

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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