Pets on Board? Tips for Animals on a Pontoon

I’ve already talked a lot about safety measures and fun activities for children and teenagers on board. But what if you’re thinking of taking Spot the golden retriever along? Or Snowball the cat? Here’s the few things I can tell you about bringing pets on board (I admit I do not have a lot of experience with this, so feel free to add any experiences’advice of your own in the comments below.)

For one, dogs do great on boats. We do not have one ourselves, but a family friend once brought their labrador for a Sunday out on the lake and it seemed to have a great time on board. The dog did not seem bothered by seasickness and was happily running around the deck for the most time. Once it got tired, he just laid next to a seat in the shade and took a good ol’ afternoon nap.

Which brings me to point #1 – if you bring pets with you on the pontoon, make sure there’s always a spot in the shade for them to lay down/take a break from the blazing sunlight. While you might enjoy getting a tan, Spot most definitely doesn’t. Another important one is to make sure that the flooring doesn’t get too hot and burn your dog’s paws – some types of vinyl can get pretty hot when exposed to direct sunlight. I’ve seen people saying you should consider getting some of those rubber shoes for dogs on the boat – but I personally think having a bit of shade on the boat is enough for animals to retreat to in case the floor is too hot in the sunny areas.

However, what you might want to get for your pet is a dog life jacket. You can easily find one online for under $20, but you need to make sure that it fits properly, and it has side handles that allow you to retrieve your dog easily if it falls into the water. Also, it’s best to opt for a bright color/reflective material, just to make sure it’s easier to spot your dog in the water, in case it’s already dark outside.

If you’re worried that the dog will get anxious on the boat because it doesn’t really know the place, make sure you give it time to take a walk/sniff around the boat while it’s still docked and understand it can easily go on/off the boat. That should be enough to relieve any uneasiness.

But what about other animals? I’ve never heard on anyone taking their cat on the boat, and I don’t think I need to explain that one. Most cats don’t do well around water in general, and they are less adventurous/comfortable with new places than dogs. I have also never heard of cat-sized life jackets (although I guess the kind for smaller dogs might fit), so take that into consideration too. Bottom line here is, if you’re planning to bring Snowball around, you’ll have much more stuff to worry about than if you had brought a dog.

Jerry Brookes

Hi I'm Jerry, founder of I've been pontooning for over 30 years believe it or not and have learned a thing or two about pontoons. As my passion project Pontoon Helper is aimed at educating any reader on all the different things you need to know before pontooning. I consider myself somewhat of an expert in this industry as it has become my life since retirement. Feel free to submit a comment or question on the website and I'll try to get back to you.

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Our dog definitely enjoys coming along for a ride on the toon every now and then. Just make sure they have safety jackets on, some can get overexcited and jump into the water right away!

    Jerry Brookes

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