Pets on the Lake


 You can go boating with your dog or cat and still maintain their safety. 

Have a wonderful time!

A few precautions and some planning can go a long way.

I.D. Us

All pets should have identification.  Information that should be included on a special boating ID Tag –

Your boat’s permanent marina location and slip number

A phone contact for when you’re afloat

A secondary phone number (such as a relative, or land based friend)

More state -of-the-art would be an ID microchip implanted in your pet.  These chips contain a number linked to a national registry.


Keep your veterinarian’s phone number or the address of the nearest emergency clinic  information with you at all times.  You should also keep important numbers and medical information for your pet up to date and in your wallet or in your cell phone.  You may also want to ask your veterinarian how to take your pet’s temperature to minimize danger.  Normal temperatures on cats and dogs are around 101 degrees.  Anything over 103 is an emergency.


Life Jackets (PFD-personal flotation device) are a necessity.  Regardless of how good a swimmer your pet is, a sudden dunking can cause panic.  The sad truth is that many dogs drown each year.  Your dog doesn’t have the ability to tell you he’s getting fatigued and as much as our beloved dogs love to please us, they might not say anything even if they could.  A well fitting brightly colored life jacket could make the difference between life and death.

A dog’s life jacket comes in every imaginable size, from Great Dane size down to tiny toy dog size.  The experts say to  be sure at least two fasteners go around your dog’s trunk and at least one around the neck so the jacket will stay in place.  To enable you to extract your dog back onto the boat, it helps to also have handles on the back.

In addition to personal flotation devices, you may also want to consider waterproof raincoats, reflective sports jackets, and reflective safety vests.

You should gradually introduce your dog to the idea of boating.  Your dog might not like the concept of or wearing a life jacket, and the movement of the boat may be a little disconcerting.  Let your pooch wear their life jacket around the house, along with a treat, before you actually introduce them to the boat.  The first time out , take some time and don’t go out immediately, hang by the shore and just let them roam around on the boat to get used to their surroundings.

Teach your dog basic safety commands, such as stay, sit, on boat, off boat, or the all time favorite “do your business”.  If you can teach your cat these commands, I will be very impressed!



Be on extra alert at the Dock, where it seems that most accidents happen.  Make sure your cat or dog knows not to get off the boat without permission and other vital dock rules that may well be posted.  Keep an eye on them!  If you must tether your pet, do so in a secure area on a short lead.  A body harness with a lifting strap is helpful when your pet is tethered.  Never tether a pet at the neck and never leave a tethered pet unattended on deck or dock.

NEVER leave an animal in a parked car.  Even when it is 80 degrees outside, the inside of a car can heat up to more than 120 degrees in just minutes!  Leaving the windows partially rolled down won’t do the trick either.  Even if you plan to be in the store, or loading and unloading gear for just a minute, your pet is at risk of heat stroke.


Most local Town Beach and Private Lake Community Beaches have strict rules regarding whether pets are even allowed.  Please check for posting and be mindful of those regulations.


It might be best that you ensure your dog prefers the water and that they can swim.  Despite common opinion, not all dogs are able to swim.   Provide steps or ramps for dogs who have trouble navigating companionway ladders.  Let’s face it, cats can navigate darn near anything.


Make sure there are no hazardous or dangerous materials within your pet’s reach.  Get seasickness medication for your pet if necessary.  Consult your Vet-some of the same medications used for humans, such as Benadryl and Dramamine,  also work for pets.


Make sure you have plenty of fresh drinking water. A large water dish kept half full will spill less underway.  Fresh air and sunshine will make your dog thirsty, not to mention the exercise.  Deter your dog from drinking from the lake by having plenty of clean water.  Waters polluted with Blue-Green algae is poisonous, so it is very hazardous to your dog.  A nest of secured cushions or a carrier near the boat’s center of motion can help skittish pets feel safe.


Make sure to pay attention to the temperature of the water and the temperature of the air.  Just like humans, K9’s can die from hypothermia if their body temperatures become too low and they become hypothermic.  Air temperature can be too cold, but just as well, it can be too hot.  It is important that your dog has a place to avoid the sun’s strong rays if you are out on a hot and sunny day, because some dogs can sunburn. Make sure your pet has a shady place to sit on the deck (fiberglass gets hot).  Find a way to protect their paw pads from hot decks by either cooling the deck with water or making a piece of nonskid carpet available.  Sunscreen should be put on if your dog has short hair and light skin.

Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs include excessive panting, drooling, rapid pulse and fever.   Immediately run cool (not ice cold) water over the animal and wrap with cool towels before transporting your pet to the veterinarian.   Panting in cats is NOT normal, and if it lasts more than a few minutes, can be a sign of distress.

A good rule of thumb is, if you’re uncomfortable, your pet is uncomfortable!


If you are not going to be going back and forth to the shore, make sure your dog has an appropriate spot on the boat to go to the bathroom.   A piece of astro turf or a box of sod can work as a substitute when landfall is not possible.   The problem isn’t where to go, it is getting your dog to understand it is OK to go.   For your kitty cat – use an anchored litter box or use the “head”  (the toilet on a boat).

You should also carry a first aid kit for your dog.  Also make sure your dog stays out of the way of other boats and watercraft.  A brightly colored PFD may help other boats notice your dog in the water but it’s not worth the chance.


169 Federal Road
Brookfield, CT

The Barkery Bootique
38 Bank Street
New Milford, CT

A Paw Print
Tricia Brady
847 Federal Road
Brookfield, CT


Creature Comforts Mobile Veterinary Service
90 Route 39 S
Sherman, CT

Brookfield Animal Hospital
329 Federal Road
Brookfield, CT

Squibnocket Animal Center
515 Federal Road
Brookfield, CT

V.C.A. Northside Animal Hospital
21 Padanaram Road
Danbury, CT

Noah’s Ark Animal Hospital
44 Mill Plain Road
Danbury, CT

New Fairfield Animal Hospital
28 Route 39
New Fairfield, CT

Valley Veterinary Hospital
437 Danbury Road
New Milford, CT

Candlewood Animal Hospital
117 Kent Road
New Milford, CT