Summer arrives and unfortunately returns, as it does every year, the problem of abandoning animals so as not to have them in charge on vacation… That is why we have joined the campaign ofENPA, the National Animal Protection Agency, which you will find featured on the back cover of the July issue of the Sailing Newspaper, now on newsstands and on iPad.
Why did we join? Because having a dog aboard your boat can be a special experience. Here are some tips for making the most of cruising with your four-legged friend, explained by Stefano Giannini, a veterinary doctor with AMVI, (the Italian Veterinary Medical Association) in Livorno, Italy.
“What really matters is the interaction and relationship between owner and animal and the respect for the animal’s well-being and attitudes. You can’t expect to take an animal on a boat that is terrified of water, noise or movement, whereas it is highly satisfying to have a happy animal on board that knows how to move without risk to itself, property and other crew members“.
- To what extent is life on a boat compatible with the needs of pets (dogs and cats) and to what extent is a vacation on a boat advisable?
“In general, dogs have a good relationship with water and the sea, think for example of breeds predisposed to swimming such as the Newfoundland, Labrador retriever. Different is the case with cats, which, with rare exceptions, are disinclined to get wet. They also do not like to move from their usual places, so much so that it is easy to see dogs on boats or RVs while it is rarer for cat“.
- What are the main difficulties that might arise and why?
“The dog that from an early age is accustomed to following its owners on sea outings has no difficulty to adapt to the spaces of life on a boat, as long as the latter is equipped specifically for him: for this reason, whether for day trips or an actual vacation, there are no contraindications to bringing your pet along. Beware of accidental falls overboard, heat stroke, the possibility of the dog ruining essential parts of the boat”.
- Do animals get seasick? If yes what is the most effective remedy?
“As with car travel, kinetosis can also occur at sea, so it is good to accustom, from an early age, the dog to the boat with short stays in stationary boats. Over time, the puppy gets used to it, but it is always best to keep specific veterinary medications for kinetosis on board.”
- If you decide to bring an animal on board, what are the main rules to follow for its sake?
“Plenty of fresh water always available, shady and airy area on deck, area set up for evacuations (in the case of long sailings), protective netting at the dragnets, harness with a nice ring and a float for possible recovery on board. Beware of stowing things that are dangerous for the dog or that the dog can damage (dinghy, inflatable…). Always carry the animal’s papers with you (when traveling abroad, it is good to find out the necessary documentation) and supplement the first aid kit with specific medications.”