Sailing with a dog

Sailing With a Cat and a Dog: Challenges, Experiences and Solutions

Nothing beats warm, sunny summer days on the open sea. Sailing with your loved ones and feeling the wind in your hair. Certainly it’s a special feeling. Every sailor will confirm that, and once you feel it, you’ll become addicted immediately. So, why should your pets miss out on this great feeling? Sailing with a cat or sailing with a dog is great deal of fun, believe us.

Sailing with pets is anything but impossible! Although it might seem tricky at first, thorough preparation and a bit of flexibility goes a long way when sailing with a cat or a dog. As a result, cats and dogs will enjoy sailing as much as every human would. Quite naturally, dogs will enjoy it a bit more than cats, but that also depends on a personality of an animal.

In this article we have prepared every bit of information, tips and tricks you might find useful while sailing with a cat or sailing with a dog. So, don’t let your four-legged friend miss out on great adventures that lie ahead. Because sailing with pets will give your sailing holiday that extra spin that will make you cherish and remember your sailing vacation even more dearly.

So, let’s get to it!

Sailing with a cat

Sailing with a Cat

How not to love cats? Their selflessness, independence and fluffiness. There’s really a great deal of truth in a saying: „If you don’t like cats, it means you never owned one.” Although cats are famous for their dislike of water, it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t love sailing. Quite the opposite really!

The other thing is – it’s hard to leave a cat alone when you go on a holiday. You can arrange a friend to take care of it and feed it for a week, yes, but that means leaving your kitty alone for the whole week. Also, cat kindergartens are not as popular as doggy day cares, usually because cats don’t have the same easy-going personality as dogs, especially with other cats. All that put together begs for a conclusion that the best option is taking your cat on board.

Before Going Sailing with a Cat

Before going sailing with a cat, you need to prepare. While most cats dislike water, there are some breeds that absolutely love it. Certainly those breeds won’t hesitate to jump in and go for a swim. Before going on board make sure to prepare your cat’s essentials. Pack your cat’s favourite toys, snacks and medications if your cat takes any. It’s a good advice to consult a vet before going sailing with a cat. Once you’re done packing, you’re ready for making your cat a boat cat.

Before going on board, it is a good idea to test how your cat will react to the sea. Go to the empty beach and see how the cat will react. The point of doing that is to make the atmosphere as relaxing as possible. The cat must not find the sea stressful, but rather see that you’re relaxed near the ocean. Naturally, it will come to realize that there’s no need for panic or stress near the sea. Let your cat explore the beach peacefully.

Sailing with a cat

Going on Board with a Cat

Good advice is to make a secure corner for your boat cat. This means that you must make a safe place for your kitty. Find a great spot and make it theirs. For example, put their blanket or bed there along with all of your cat’s toys and a few snacks. Also place their water and food close to it. Make their portions half in size and water accessible at all times.

After making all of that, and while still anchored, open all of the doors and let your (now) boat cat explore the territory. This will make the adjustment easiest. Make sure you are inside the boat while your sailing cat is exploring the boat and be as relaxed as possible. This will, once again, signal the cat that everything is fine and that there is no need for panic. Just take your phone, sit and read the news while the sailing kitty is exploring the boat. This is your holiday too after all. There also needs to be a shaded area outside at all times for your cat to rest.

Good idea is to take your cat on a few shorter sailing trips before going sailing for a whole week. But it is understandable if you can’t make that possible.


First thing you must do is show your cat where you have placed its toilet. We don’t recommend putting your cat’s toilet in the toilet. The reason is because toilet’s doors tend to close by itself while sailing. And your cat could find itself locked in the toilet or in front of the toilet. Either way, not good. Good spot is the back end of the boat. The best place being under the outside table. It is in the open, there’s shade throughout the day and it is the most practical place considering the smell. You just must make sure that the toilet is stable. Once you find a place for your cat’s toilet, do not move it.

Sailing with a cat


Safety is another thing to consider when sailing with a cat. The first thing is for the most cautious ones. Buy a life vest for your cat. There are usually not that many life vests for cats. There are, however, a lot for smaller dogs which will be purrfect for your boat cat.

It is unlikely that, while sailing with a cat, the cat will fall overboard. Cats are extremely cautious beings and that goes to your advantage. However, they can be pretty silly and playful which can cause them to fall overboard. To prevent that from happening, secure the front of the boat with safety nets, just like for children. That way, a cat will also feel much more secure and will enjoy going to the front of the boat more.

Also, the inside of a boat is pretty slippery. Put a few carpets inside and something on the steps. This will prevent your cat from injuries. It will also make easier for a cat to go in and out.

Sun Protection and Seasickness

It is hard to protect your sailing cat from the sun. They will naturally avoid the sun if they’re too hot. That’s why it’s important for cats to always have fresh water available! You can also put cold fresh water on the back of their neck every now and then.

Just like humans, cats can get seasick, too. That’s why it’s good to have a vet prepare something of a first aid kit for your sailing cat. Anti-nausea medication for pets are Meclizine, Antivert, Bonine or Dramamine II. These drugs help only with motion sickness.

But before going sailing with a cat and giving it any medication, take the cat to the vet. Make sure the cat is healthy. Before giving your cat any medication, ask the vet for the dosage.

Famous Sailing Cats

Sailing Cats

Salty Sea Cat

The Sailing Cat

“Leo knows all the hiding spots even better than us, he loves jumping in the bildge and hang out there for hours.”


Annabelle Afloat

Sailing with a Dog

Sailing with a dog, much like sailing with a cat, is a great deal of fun. Dogs are open, loving, enthusiastic and friendly. They are open to new experiences and are much easier to get used to sailing than cats, that’s quite obvious. So, if you’re going sailing, it is a great idea to take your dog with you. They will enjoy every moment of being outdoors, and they will have an adventure of their lifetime.

They will, much likely, take the sailing holiday as one big walk. And as we all know, there is nothing dogs love more than walks. But, of course, before going sailing with your dog you must prepare first.

Before Going Sailing with a Dog

Preparation is important. Pack your dog’s favourite toys, favourite blankets, bed and snacks. A lot of dogs enjoy water. But there would be no harm in having some time at the beach first. So make sure you’re having fun with your dog in the shallow sea and make sure the dog doesn’t find the sea stressful. If you have a dog that likes swimming, you can skip this step.

Don’t forget your dog’s medication if it takes any, and bring treats. Ideally, take your dog on a few short sailing trips first. But if you don’t have time for that, just make sure your dog feels comfortable on board. Let the dog climb on board and let it sniff out the boat before going sailing. Let the dog get used to the boat and let it go in and out of the boat. You can make it a game for it to get used to the boat faster.

These steps will make sailing with a dog as pleasurable as possible.

Going on Board with a Dog

After your dog has sniffed out the boat, you’re ready for the next step. Let your dog get inside the boat and take a tour of the inside of the boat. Open all of the doors and let it inspect everything. Make this experience the most relaxed as possible for the dog. Give it enough time. After a while your (now) boat dog will find a place for a rest. Make that place its place. Dogs are pretty good at finding spots where they feel comfortable, so don’t doubt its decision. It will most likely be a place the dog enjoys the most. Probably somewhere cold and hidden. Put water and food bowl right next to that place.

It is important that your boat dog has all its toys and things it cherishes. That way the dog won’t take sailing as something unusual or stressful. Much the opposite because it will have all its favourite things along with ts family. You are ready for a great sailing week.

Dog on board


Dog’s toilet on a boat can be a little tricky. But don’t worry, everything is manageable! Dogs are used to do number one and number two outside. This, however, won’t be possible while sailing with a dog. At least not always. Make a special place for your dog’s toilet. It can be a little lawn-like place or simply bigger litter box much like cats would use. You must get your dog used to this toilet, so practice in advance. That way, your dog will immediately start using the toilet on board. You will also save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress and, well, poop.

When it comes to placing your dog’s toilet, it is recommended to place it inside because it is a bit more stable. You can also place it outside, but then you have to make sure it’s stable. It mustn’t move and it must be easily accessible for your dog. You can put some rough tape on the bottom of the litter box to prevent it from slipping.

Everything else depends on you and your preferences. We prefer having dog’s toilet outside because of the smell. Other people prefer to have it in inside because of the stability issue. It’s up to you. Just don’t put it inside the boat toilet. Boat toilets can close by itself while sailing, so your dog could get trapped in the bathroom or in front of it.

Another great word of advice is to always clean the litter after your dog, much like during a walk. Have doggie bags with you and throw them in the garbage once you anchor in the marina.


Dogs tend to be pretty clumsy, so it is good to take action before an accident happens. It’s a must to secure the front of the boat with safety net to prevent your dog from falling overboard. It is not a bad idea to put safety net all around the boat. That way you’d feel much safer. And you will not lose your dog in the middle of the ocean too.

Buy your dog a life vest, too. They come in all sizes and shapes, so you wouldn’t have a problem with finding the right size for your puppy. It’s also good to put a life vest on your dog if it goes swimming in the deep without an easy access out of the water. It’s best because dog would swim with you and it wouldn’t be nowhere near as tiring for a dog as without a vest. If you’re swimming in the shallow, the vest is not needed.

Put some kind of carpentry on the steps. Steps are pretty slippery for dog’s feet and this will prevent injuries from happening. It will also make going in and out of the boat much easier.

Before going sailing with a dog, take your dog to a vet to make sure it’s healthy. Ask your vet to put together a first aid kit which will include something if the dog injures itself and motion sickness drugs. Ask a vet for the dosage of the drugs and write them down.

Dog on board

Sun Protection and Seasickness

There is not much you can do to prevent your dog from the sun. But, dogs have fur which is to protect them from weather conditions, sun included. They are pretty smart creatures and won’t expose themselves to too much sun naturally. They can’t wear sunblock, too.

However, there are a few things you can do to help your dog to deal with the heat. You can have a large bucket or something like a little pool where your dog can take a quick heat-relieving bath from time to time. If there’s no room, make sure to soak your dog in water from time to time. At least put water on the back of its neck.

Dogs must have fresh water at all times. They cool themselves through their tongues, so it is obvious they would love to put their tongues in cold water. Also, if your dog lies to rest, leave it alone. It is important for the dog to be restful because heat is exhausting. Just like it is for humans.

Like humans, dogs can get seasick. Luckily, there are drugs that can help your dog if necessary. Dramamine and Benadryl are drugs that prevent motion sickness. Acepromazine is most likely a drug that a vet will recommend because it has proven to have the best results. It helps dogs with anxiety as well as with motion sickness.

How Can I Keep My Dog Cool on a Boat?

Tips & trick for keeping your dog cool while sailing

  1. Groom its excess hair
    Less hair your dog has, the better. Usually dogs shed their winter hair in springtime to prepare for summer. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a little help.
  2. Make the dog wear a cooling vest
    There’s a variety of cooling vests you can choose from. A cooling vest is a doggie vest that you soak into water, squeeze excess water and put on your dog. It keeps your dog cool throughout the day. Better ones reflect sun’s rays.
  3. Keep the dog in the shade
    Create enough places on board for your dog to rest. Back end and inside of the boat will be more than enough for the dog to rest.
  4. Give the dog a gel cooling mat to lie on
    Cooling mats are a must if you’re sailing with a dog or sailing with a cat. These cooling mats are stuffed with a cooling gel that keeps the temperature up to three hours. Just put it in the fridge first and take it out when you need it.
  5. Dog must have fresh water at all times
    We cannot stress this enough. Your sailing dog must always have fresh water.
  6. Use a water spray to cool the dog down
    Use spray to keep your dog cool. Just use one empty container with a spray end, fill it with water and you have a cooling device for your family in a minute.
  7. Protect its paws
    Boats tend to get hot throughout the day. That’s why it’s smart to put some sort of old carpets on the front end of the boat. This will prevent your dog from getting its paws burnt which can be very inconvenient for the dog.
  8. Go swimming
    Obviously! Especially if the dog likes water, let it swim as much as it likes.

Famous Sailing Dogs

Sailing Dogs

Thor the Sailing Dog

“A dog on a boat can be a great security system & companion just the same as a dog on land.”

Tony, SV Island Sonata

Sailing Satori

“We love sailing with our dog Arthur! We couldn’t imagine it any other way. He is part of our family.”

Kelly, Sailing Satori

Sailing with Dogs

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Charter Companies and Pets

It is really hard to provide useful information on this topic. It is because every agency and every charter have different policies. Most of them won’t find problems with a pet, but you must check with them. Ask them if you can take your pet sailing with you. There can be and doesn’t have to be a difference in price, it all depends on the charter. Unique policy does not exist.

Usually, agencies and charters can provide you with useful information. Ask them for advice and if you need something else for your pet. They will be happy to help.

Pet Passport

Pet passport is an international document that allows your pet to travel freely between countries without quarantine. It’s a document which officially records information on a specific animal. If you want to avoid any kind of inconvenience while travelling with your pet, getting a pet passport is a good idea.

There are different types of pet passports.

PTS or Pet Travel Scheme is a system which allows animals to travel easily between member countries without undergoing quarantine. The idea is to speed up travelling for animals as well as making travelling easier and more comfortable for pets.

EU Pet Passport

The other is the EU Pet Passport. The European Union Pet Passport allows pets to travel within and from European Union. It’s a little blue passport with your pet’s health status, your name and address, dog’s breed, physical traits and microchip number. You can also glue your pet’s photograph. As long as pet’s rabies vaccination is kept current and recorded, this document will never expire.

If you want to apply for EU Pet Passport you do not have to be an EU citizen. It usually takes 30 minutes and costs € 70. All it takes is one visit to a vet.

How to Get the EU Pet Passport

Getting EU Pet Passport

  1. Make an appointment with a vet
    Make an appointment with an official EU vet. In Europe, almost every vet is an EU official. You don’t need to do this beforehand if you’re not from Europe. You can do it upon arrival in any EU country.
  2. Fill out the documentation
    You must have with you: Annex IV form completed by your home vet and endorsed by your country’s official veterinary regulatory body (USDA in the United States for example), your pet’s current rabies certificate or rabies titer test not older than 21 days and microchip information, date of implantation, chip number and issuing company information (this info is also on the Annex IV form).
  3. Pet’s health examination
    A vet will examine your pet. Check all the vital signs, scan the microchip and address and all your health-related concerns. After that, a vet will write a short review, review your paperwork and fill out the EU Pet Passport.
  4. Enjoy your holiday
    Lay back and enjoy your holiday!

2 thoughts on “Sailing With a Cat and a Dog: Challenges, Experiences and Solutions”

    1. Thank you very much! 🙂

      We worked very hard on this article and we’re happy you found it helpful.

      Take care,

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