The Seasick Life of Pets: Your Ill Dog or Cat Onboard

The Log’s latest Nautical Banter dives into dealing with your cat or dog becoming seasick. Kevin Davis, our Sales Director, shares his experiences with the pets he has aboard his boat.

LONG BEACH—Many of The Log’s readers have pets. We meet a lot of those pets in our Dog Aboard section, which usually has a six- to nine-month waitlist between photo submission and publication. These photo submissions – which are usually of dogs on boats, but sometimes we receive pictures of cats on boats – present the boaters’ pet (or pets) having fun while aboard a recreational vessel. There are also lows to having pets aboard your boat – and those lows sometimes comes in the form of seasickness.

The Log’s Parimal M. Rohit and Kevin Davis engage in a quick banter about pets and seasickness. Davis, for reference, is a liveaboard in Long Beach and has a few pets aboard his boat, Indy Sent Lady.

Parimal M. Rohit: Pets and boats go together – our popular Log Aboard section is proof of that. You have a few pets aboard your boat. What do you and your wife have with you aboard Indy Sent Lady?

Kevin Davis: We have two dogs (Zuzu and Pearl) and a cat (Peas – who had a brother named Carrots).

PMR: You had your pets before you moved aboard your boat?

KD: Yes. However, back then we had two dogs and two cats. We lost our 18-year-old dog (Moe) and Carrots the cat a few years ago. We’ve since adopted another dog (Pearl).

PMR: What’s the adjustment like, for them?

KD: They actually loved it! They get outside/on deck more often. They’ve become very social. They like the attention from surrounding boaters. They also love all the wildlife that is around us – fish, birds, seals, dolphins. Getting them to know we are surrounded by water is never ending. Everyone has gone overboard at least once. Luckily not when we’ve been out sailing but only when docked. The cat is a very good swimmer.

PMR: How long did it take for them to get acclimated?

KD: They all adapted pretty quickly. Each has their favorite place on the boat.

PMR: Were they seasick at all?

KD: Yes, all of them have gotten seasick. The cat more than the dogs.

PMR: Did they vomit, or struggle to eat, or struggle to sleep?

KD: Not when docked. At sea – calm seas not so much, rough seas yes, especially when there are big swells over time. They feel just like humans when they get seasick, and it can be a mess –especially if all three get sick at one time. Yes, they vomit, have digestive issues, and struggle to eat and drink. However, just like most of us they do gain their sea legs over time. There is also pet dramamine that is available to help. By the way, my firstmate is good at cleaning the messes up. However, it usually makes her sick when we are out sailing – LOL!

PMR: Haha! Okay, walk us through what happens when your dog or cat are seasick? What are they experiencing? What are you doing to help them recover? What is the recovery timeline?

KD: Rough seas and anxiety promote getting seasick. Again, pets are just like humans when seasick. If you’ve been seasick you understand. It usually takes very calm seas or even getting back on land to feel better. Sleep also helps. Getting your pet to calm down (feel safe) is key. When they are thirsty or hungry, don’t overdo it. Give them a little water and small portions of food when they are ready. Also – always give the pet dramamine before they get sick. You can also search online for other home remedies i.e. aromatherapy (lavender, chamomile oil, peppermint) – works for humans, too, by the way.

PMR: When your dog or cat are seasick, what happens to you/your wife? Do one of you have to stay aboard at all times until they recover? Is there a stretch of time you can leave them unattended?

KD: We clean up. Usually the pets rebound pretty quickly. We’ve always been around to make sure they are good to go before leaving them. We don’t usually leave the pets on the boat unattended for any real length of time.

PMR: Just the same, are you stuck at your dock until they recover? Is it unwise to sail anywhere?

KD: That’s a judgment call each pet owner needs to make. Our pets are usually good to go pretty quickly. However, if you are out sailing and not heading in to dock anytime soon, it can make for a long day/night for them and you.

PMR: What happens when you have two or more of your pets seasick at the same time? How much more magnified is the situation?

KD: Everything doubles. Get you cleaning supplies out and be ready.

PMR: Hypothetical: what happens if your pets get seasick while you are on, say, vacation, and you can’t get back to your boat for one or two days (or more)?

KD: We don’t leave our pets on board by when we are on vacation – we kennel them.

PMR: What are some tips you can recommend to prevent or limit seasickness for pets?

KD: Again do you research online (pet dramamine, aromatherapy., ect..) Also, best to not feed (or feed just a little) before heading out, especially if seas or rough or big swells. Again, if you’ve been seasick, you know how they feel. (insert vomit emoji)

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