How to Keep a Dog Cool on a Boat: Our 8 Tips

As a bonafide member of the family, your pooch is probably one of the first priorities that comes to mind when you consider spending a day out on the lake. But as a responsible pet owner, one of the first things you’ll need to consider before you entertain all of those feel-good daydreams would be your best bud’s safety.

A dog will get pretty hot on a boat, and the last thing you’d want would be to end your day with an emergency trip to the vet’s clinic. So to make sure your furry friend gets to enjoy the experience, here’s everything you need to know on how to keep a dog cool on a boat.

8 Tips on How to Keep a Dog Cool on a Boat

1. Give Him a Well-Deserved Grooming

Imagine having absolutely no sweat glands, and being covered in a lush coat of fur. Now that’s hot - literally. Your pooch can only dissipate heat by sticking out his tongue and panting his little heart away, so it would be wise to help his body trap less heat by giving him a well-deserved grooming before you hop on the boat.

If you can’t bring him to your trusted groomer before the big day, then you could probably do a DIY cut and brush at home. For the more confident pet owner, dog clippers can help you get a close trim on your pup’s fur. Then again, if you’re a little less confident in your ability to give your pooch a suitable cut, a simple deshedding brush should help get rid of excess fur and thin out his pelt.

2. Provide Some Shade

If you’ve yet to fit your single level pontoon boat with a Bimini top, then you should expect to be pretty exposed to the harsh sun during the trip. And while that might work in favor of your tan, your dog might not be too excited about spending such a long time under direct sunlight. So make sure you provide him some shade to take refuge from the heat.

elevated portable pet house for shade

An inexpensive portable dog house should find the perfect spot on your boat. Just make sure you choose something that won’t act like an oven under the heat. An elevated shelter with a fabric material would be the ideal choice, keeping your pup out of contact with your boat flooring which also tends to get a little warm under certain conditions.

3. Lay Out a Cooling Mat

A cooling gel mat is specifically designed to give your dog a comfortable surface to beat the heat. Using a gel material, these mats can be a few degrees cooler than ambient temperature, saving your dog from having to lie down on the hot floor of your boat. Keeping one inside his portable kennel can also be a smart move, helping to keep the space cooler and more comfortable than any other area of the boat.

There are lots of different kinds of cooling mats for dogs, but a choice that cools itself without the need for ice or water should be far more convenient to keep around. If you’ve got a power source on board, an electrically powered cooling mat might offer more substantial cooling power.

4. Get Him to Wear a Cooling Vest

Specifically designed to help cool down your dog during hot conditions, a cooling vest can be soaked in water to bring down your pup’s temperature. But aside from keeping your pooch at a comfortable temperature, these vests are also designed to deflect heat instead of absorbing it, so there’s no need to worry about the build up of warmth during its use.

dog cooling vest

What’s even better is that the right dog cooling vest will keep re-cooling itself every time it gets wet. So if you’ve got a pup that likes to splash around and play in the water, his vest should stay cool and comfortable for the duration of your trip.

5. Be Ready With Cool Drinks and Snacks

Your dog will start to drink whatever water is available if they get thirsty without an accessible drinking bowl. Unless you’re absolutely sure that the water in the area is safe for your pup to drink, it would be wise to provide a water bowl ever at the ready. Steel bowls filled with cold water can stay cool for much longer, and some experts even say that you can add a few ice cubes as well to maintain the temperature for longer.

If you’ve got some dog treats with you, or perhaps his favorite chew toy, toss it in a plastic bag and keep it in your cooler. These can also help refresh your pup and turn down the temperature with an added treat to boot.

6. Give Him a Spritz Now and Again

On particularly dry days, a routine spritz can help you and your dog keep cool, especially if you’re not quite ready to jump into the water just yet. There are tons of inexpensive spray bottles on the market that let you do the job pretty straightforward. But if you were hoping for a slightly more cooling spray, a misting fan with a built-in spray bottle should give your pup a cool mist of water with a gentle breeze.

7. Protect His Paws

Whether you’re hanging out on your boat or walking along the lakeside, there’s always the risk of exposing your dog’s bare paws to heat. Burnt paws can be especially painful, causing your pup to limp or avoid walking all together as he avoids using his painful, blistered paws. Fortunately, preventing burnt paws is incredibly simple, making it effortless to save your beloved fur baby from the potential injury.

A balm specifically developed for paw protection smeared across the paws can be an effective way to keep away burns. Of course, booties can also be a choice, but since they can get warm after a while, a balm might be a more intuitive choice.

8. Let Him Play!

While you’re thinking of how to keep a dog cool on a boat, your pup’s already thought of a way to keep cool off of the boat. You obviously didn’t just take your dog out so he could sit on the boat for the whole thing, right? There’s really no better way to help him keep cool than by simply letting him splash around in the water.

As soon as you find a safe place for him to jump in, let your dog play and enjoy the natural cooling power of fresh water. Of course, for your peace of mind, you might also want to throw a life vest on him. But once that’s out of the way, you might want to let him cool off the best way he knows how.

Doggy’s Day Out

With your furry friend tagging along for a boat ride, you need to make sure you pull out all the stops to keep him comfortably cool all throughout. Dogs aren’t like people and they need specific conditions to maintain healthy temperatures. So it’s up to you to make sure all of the essentials for his safety and comfort are sufficiently provided. Now, the next time you decide to take old Fido out on the pontoon with you, try to keep these necessities on how to keep a dog cool on a boat in mind so he can have just as much fun under the sun as you.

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