Boating with your furry friend

Top tips to keep your pet safe and happy while out on the water

If you enjoy boating, you probably enjoy taking your friends out on your boat to share the exhilaration of getting afloat – especially if those friends happen to have four legs and a tail.

But before you do it’s important to think about the steps you can take to keep your pet safe and happy while out on the water.

Top doggy tips

  • Give your pet a chance to get acquainted with the boat before setting sail
  • Always keep plenty of fresh drinking water available
  • Provide a shaded area – excessive sun exposure causes problems for humans and animals alike
  • Protect their feet – dogs absorb heat through the pads on their feet and boat surfaces can get very hot in the sun
  • Keep your first trip short, to let your dog get used to the boat’s surroundings and movement

A lifejacket can also help keep your pet safe while aboard your boat or around any body of water.  Give your pet a chance to get used to wearing its life jacket before actually getting on a boat – and it’s a good idea to allow your pet to practice swimming while wearing its life jacket too.

Watch our video on doggy buoyancy aids with Crewsaver here - 

So what if you want to take your furry friend further afield? Although the UK has relaxed its quarantine rules to an extent, it still only allows pets to be brought into the UK without quarantine under certain conditions.

Pet Travel Rules

It is not permitted to bring pets into the UK by private boat or plane (unless you are arriving from Ireland). They must arrive by an approved transport company on an authorised route.

These rules are in place to keep the UK free from rabies and certain other diseases. The current regulations have been in force since 2012 when the UK brought its procedures into line with the European Union.

Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)

In order for pet dogs, cats and ferrets from any country to enter the UK without quarantine, they must comply with the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). These rules differ depending on the country or territory the pet is coming from.

The scheme also means that people in the UK can take their dogs, cats and ferrets to any country and bring them back to the UK (using an approved transport company) without the need for the animals to enter quarantine.

The rules do not permit pet owners to bring pets into the UK from a private boat or with any transport company that has not successfully negotiated an agreement with DEFRA called a Required Method of Operation (RMOP). 

Pet owners are only able to use the routes and transport companies detailed at to bring their pets into the UK under the PETS, subject to the transport company’s agreement.

British Isles

The UK does however allow travel between the UK and Ireland, the UK and the Isle of Man and the UK and the Channel Islands. The UK does not currently require documentation for these movements although you may wish to travel with your pet’s passport, if available.

As it is prohibited to bring a pet into the UK on a private boat from another country, PETS advises that you keep a ship’s log, noting which ports you have entered in order to avoid problems with port officials on re-entry to the UK.

In the event of problems at sea which, for example, resulted in the vessel making an emergency stop in a port outside the British Isles for repairs, your cat, dog or ferret would require 6 months quarantine on re-entry to the UK if the pet goes ashore during the emergency stop. It is therefore recommended that your cat/dog is prepared under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) to avoid such risks.

Further information about the Pet Travel Scheme is available by calling 0370 241 1710 or visit