Sailing With Pets – What You Need To Know

Sailing With Pets What You Need To Know

Are you going on a sailing trip and have no one to whom you could entrust your furry friend? Take it with you! You and your pets together on an adventure at the open sea might sound surreal. It is, indeed, a little unusual, and yet is not only possible but also fun! Iguanas, hamsters, and bunnies should probably stay at home with a trusted friend, but dogs and (some) cats can happily join you during your vacation at sea. 

Sailing With Cats

Cats are perhaps more complex, naturally less flexible, and more attached to the house. A lot depends on the character of each particular cat. Some look incredibly comfortable catching sunlight from a boat, while others do not adapt so quickly. 

Dogs, on the other hand, are usually enthusiastic about being taken on a family holiday and are an excellent company for single sailors and small groups.


First of all, unless you are a boat owner, you need to find a charter boat that allows animals to be on board. Then follows the stage of bureaucracy. Therefore, it is worth starting with this.

Your pet's documents package should comply with rules that vary from country to country and may include quarantine, special vaccinations, and additional documents. Europe, for instance, requires a pet passport, which must be signed by an approved veterinarian.

Remember that dogs are usually required to have a chip in a lot of countries globally.

As for the price, you don't have to spend much money – especially if we talk about charter yachts. The highest expenses occur if there is an error in the documents. The importance of correctly managed documentation cannot be overestimated. You can be caught up paying for mistakes in paperwork for the transportation of the animal for a long time. It can be both indirect costs (for example, a new route or using an airplane to take an animal out of the country), or just fines for violating import rules.

Safety first

If you happen to be an owner of an active animal, provide the boat with additional safety measures. Nets around the vessel and pet harnesses help to avoid an incident with a pet. Besides, both cats and dogs should always wear life vests on board. For this purpose, even children's life jackets could be used and are easily accessible. Make sure you take care of purchasing those in advance.

Sailing With Pets What You Need To Know

Narrow berths and steep stairs can be a problem for your dog. However, it is nothing that would scare a cat! An easy solution for this dog-specific problem can be an anti-sliding rubber mat (such as you would typically use in the bathroom or for carpets). Otherwise, you could place a light rug or blanket on the stairs to make it easier for your furry friend to maneuver on board.

It is crucial to understand whether such a lifestyle suits your pet even temporarily. The answer to this question is almost always affirmative, but in rare cases, animals refuse to adapt, and then you need to think primarily about their health.

Private business

Finding a place to answer nature's call at sea can be especially tricky for dogs. A simple solution is to create a unique toilet filled with sand or any other filler. Make sure you introduce the space to your pet well in advance before you go sailing. It will allow the dog to familiarize itself with it and provide a smoother transition into the traveling mode.

Usually, for cats, such a place is organized a lot easier. You could even use a big lid from some container that is not in use. Fill it up with plenty of kitty litter, and you are good to go! Otherwise, a portable cat toilet would be the best. It is advisable to set it under the deck for better stability.

Have Fun Sailing With Pets

An alternative solution is that your pets can be taken to land. It is more comfortable in countries like Greece and Croatia. There it would be possible to embark every 5 hours or so for the animals to feel comfortable.

Motion sickness and co

Man's best friends can get disturbed with seasickness while on vacation. Take medications for your pet – some of them are suitable for both humans and animals, but it is best to consult a veterinarian. 

All Things Good

Excessive exposure to the sun can cause heatstroke and dehydration. A perfect idea for furry dogs is to visit a groomer before the trip. It also helps to feed them more often in small portions and help you stock up on a first-aid kit for your pet before you leave.

There are many medicines available that your veterinarian can help you pick to create a first-aid kit for your pet before you leave.

Time to play

Playing on the beach and in the water can be a real pleasure, especially for dogs. Use every opportunity to get the dog out of the boat for walks and games, especially the larger ones, which can be hindered by spatial restrictions. A good run on the beach or a walk along the harbor might help a lot.

Some locals may not be as dog-friendly as you. A responsible owner will do some research about the local culture and rules and ask before bringing dogs into restaurants, shops, or public beaches.

All Things Good

While you are on board, your friend can be entertained and busy with his favorite toys. Consider dedicating a small corner to your cat or dog. There they can feel safe if they want to relax during your sailing holidays. You can place blankets and toys from home in this area so that your pet feels as comfortable as possible. 

Sailing With Dogs

There should always be plenty of cool, shadowed spaces on board so that your pet can rest. Also, make sure it has plenty of fresh drinkable water. 

As for the feeding process, make sure animals get food the same way as at home. It is not recommended to change the ration. If your friend is on a natural diet, exclude products that are heavy for the stomach. If your pet at home only eats kibble, stock plenty of it for the journey. Proper nutrition for the animal is the key to the good functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and the reduction of the harmful effects of motion sickness.


You did not expect it to be all fun and games, did you? A pet on board is not only joy for everyone, but also an additional responsibility for the crew.

Make sure you are ready that pets can bring a lot of dirt to the boat, and if they have seasickness, there's even more mess that needs cleaning. Cats may sometimes choose to ignore their litter trays. Wool can appear everywhere and is difficult to collect.


Your pets, especially dogs, will make you spend an active holiday, as they need exercise and attention. If your main goal is to relax, enjoy the sun and read, it might be better to leave them at home.

Bon Voyage!

The presence of a pet on board in most cases has a positive effect on the general ethical level and mood of the crewmembers. Everyone is just happy with such a company.

Therefore, the next time you rent a sailboat, you do not have to leave your four-legged friends. Why not take them with you?

Following these tips, sailing with your pets onboard can be fun!

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