Paddling Pet Friendly and Responsibly

As any pet owner knows, having to leave your pets home while working, shopping, and running errands, sucks. So Stella and I both rejoice when the weekend comes around and we get to go on all day adventures together.


Of course our favorite outdoor activity is paddling! Since Stella prefers the open deck of the SUP Board compared to the kayak, we have been sharpening our skills with a single bladed paddle. Don't worry, I still find time to go kayaking too. Here are a few things to consider if you plan on taking your furbaby on your paddling adventures.

1. Safety First!


Even though your pet may be a good swimmer, it's always a good idea to put a proper fitting life vest on them. If nothing else, it gives you something to grab and pull them back into your boat when they fall in. Trust me, they don't appreciate getting pulled back in by their ears or legs. When it gets too hot out, sometimes we opt for a harness instead of life vest. This still makes it easy to pull her out of the water, but is less insulating.

2. Comfort Level

As you can see, Stella is a black dog, and its hot for her to be in the sun all day. Even when we are surrounded by water to cool off, I always bring an umbrella that clips on my beach chair to give her some respite from the sun.


While taking in environmental factors for comfort such as temperature and sun exposure, don't forget that being surrounded on all sides by water, may not be your pets idea of a good time. Starting them young helps, but make sure they are enjoying themselves as much as you do. I mentioned earlier that we have switched from kayaking to SUP boarding recently. This is, in part, due to Stella being much more comfortable on the wide flat deck of the SUP than she was on the uneven top of a kayak. And I have more room to paddle!

3. Snacks and Clean Drinking Water

I can't stop my pup from drinking river water, but I try to offer her fresh water in her travel bowl, from her own water bottle (or mine) as often as possible. I never hit the water without snacks for myself, so of course I keep some dog biscuits or treats handy.

4. Beware of deadly plants

A couple years ago I heard from one of my backpacking groups that a type of weed was responsible for quite a few cases of sick dogs. Its called Cowbane (Also known as water hemlock or poison parsnip) and is commonly found near riverbanks

Click here for a list of more weeds that are dangerous for pets

5. Clean up after your pet

This should be a no-brainer if you are already a pet owner. Bring some plastic gloves and few bags to pick up any messes left behind by your pet, or someone else's pet if you want to go above an beyond. But the end goal is to always leave the river (and river banks) in better shape than you found it.

Ideal boats for you and your furry companion

Sit Inside Kayaks

The following kayaks have roomy cockpits of varying sizes. It is always best to test a kayak before buying, and most kayak shops are dog friendly.

Wilderness Systems - Pungo

Wilderness Systems - Aspire

Old Town - Loon

Old Town - Vapor

Old Town - Sorrento

Old Town - Dirigo

Perception - Prodigy

Current Designs - Solara

Eddyline - Sandpiper

Sit On Top Kayaks

Unlike Sit-In kayaks, Sit On Top kayaks are usually much more accommodating to pets or even children. With that being said, if I were to list all the dog-friendly Sit on top kayaks, it would be a very, very long list and consist of almost every sit on top kayak ever made. But here is a link to the Sit on top kayaks we currently offer.
Most sit on tops have a tank well behind the seat. By removing the bungee cord, you have made a nice seating area for your companion. Keep in mind that this will affect the trim of your kayak, making it more stern heavy. For best performance, weight should be evenly distributed through out your kayak.