The Ten Commandments of Boating and Dogs – Boat Safety For Pets

January 4th, 2013

By Patrick Dines

I have been boating with dogs and cats for more than twenty years and have experienced all the benefits as well as most of the problems that can occur with dogs on a boat. If you want to enjoy the company of your pets on the water you need to remember the Ten Commandments of Boating with Pets.

Dog boating safety tipsI.  Dogs need to learn to swim just like humans.  Although their first paddle will be a lot easier for them than your first breaststroke, you need to make your dog feel comfortable in the water, and a boat is not the first place to begin swimming lessons. Tossing a stick or a ball in the water, progressively further from shore is the best way to teach them to feel comfortable in the water.

2. Some dogs will never feel comfortable in the water.  Dogs with large bodies and small legs will never swim for fun… they will swim to survive.  American bulldogs are a good example.  Compare them to standard poodles, originally bred as duck hunters that can swim all day long and ask for more. If you have a dog that is not a good swimmer, consider fitting them with a doggie life vest when you are on a crossing.

3. Dogs, just like humans, can get hypothermia in cold water. However, they won’t know they are getting cold because their instincts to please you in the water are stronger than their understanding of cold water.  The ground rule is that if you need to get out of the water because you are getting cold, your dog is getting cold. The exception is dogs with very thick fur that trap air in their fur that acts as insulation. If your dog comes out of the water and begins to shake uncontrollably, put them in a hot shower or warm them up with blankets or towels.

4. Most dogs cannot be trained to use a marine toilet.  Therefore, you need to plan your stops along the way accordingly or teach them to pee off the swim platform.  That’s not so easy. Most dogs would rather rupture their bladder than pee on a swim platform. Buy some of those paper training blankets for puppies and lay them on a spot where you would like them to pee, preferably near a scupper and a water hose connection.

5. If your dog falls overboard at night, you will never find him if you are underway. At night, make sure your dogs stays inside the boat.

6. If your dog falls overboard during the day, and you see him fall overboard, keep pointing at him in the water so as not to lose his position. Dogs cannot wave at you. All you have is a small head that can easily get lost in the swells. Guide the captain to the location where you are pointing. If the dog falls overboard underway and no one sees him fall in, he will be lost.

7.  Vets are not available at sea. If you are going to be out at sea for any length of time, make sure you have all his meds with you, especially his flea medication. A flea infestation at sea is a nightmare.  If you have any problems, consider contacting an expert at VetLive.

8. Small dogs cannot climb ladders…but big nimble dogs can. If you are going to live aboard and want a pet, select a long legged and nimble dog, or at last resort, a cat.

Boat safety with pets9.  At sea, most dogs cannot get back aboard from the water without human help or a device to that end. Hydraulic swim platforms are the best solution but very expensive.  The other option is outfitting your swim ladder with a float that leaves about two feet of ladder under the water.

10. Big dogs that panic in the water can drown a human, in particular small humans. Do not try to help them by swimming next to them. Instead, using a calm voice, guide them to a location where you can get them out of the water safely. If you are in the water with them and they panic, push them away from you keeping them at arms length.

Patrick Dines has been boating for 30 years, has lived for extended periods on boats (with pets) and now operates a St. Petersburg, Florida Yacht Charter business called Florida Yachts Charter.  He has lived in France, England, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States for most of his life and speaks five languages. He now resides on the West Coast of Florida for 6 months of the year and Europe for the other 6 months.

Ways to Winterize your Pets

December 3rd, 2012

winterize your dogA Fresh Look at a Boring List

It seems each year that the same seasonal pet articles appear. The trouble is, the audience that reads them is the audience that least needs to. In the past I have written them here for this blog, and I continue to write them for different publications at their request, but I have to wonder: who the hell benefits from these lists?

Perhaps someone benefits from the knowledge they provide but I am not sold. Here I present to you a few of my favorite and most obvious things to know about how to endure the bitter cold winter (despite the fact that I am a St. Pete Fl Vet), should you live somewhere that actually still gets a bitter cold winter. If you are experiencing an unseasonably warm season, feel free to skip straight to number one—you need to read it more than anyone.

5.Winter gear for dogs

Personally I find dog clothes a bit embarrassing, but as long as they are on your dog and not mine, I’m all for it. Still, it goes without saying, if you don’t enjoy walking with snow stuck between your toes for 15 minutes, your dog won’t either. Ice is cold and it hurts, and tiny dogs with little body fat or insulating fur will need a winter coat.

4. Antifreeze is anti-life!

Changing the coolant in your car should really be done in an auto shop as it needs to be done via pressured reverse flush. Then there is the whole fact that it is illegal in every state to dump the antifreeze down a drain, on the ground, or send it to the dump in your trash. Still, if you are someone that changes his or her own antifreeze, take note: this colorful liquid is not a superfood smoothie. Antifreeze is incredibly toxic and causes kidney failure in a very short time. Keep away from pets as they do like the smell and taste of it!

online vet


3. Apparently some people still keep their pets outside. They probably don’t call them pets actually. Still, if you keep “animals” outside, they need fresh liquid water, NOT THE FROZEN KIND, at all times. They also need a shelter of some sorts. Animals get frost bite! And it hurts! Yes, animals feel pain! Despite some old school folks’ opinions (some vets are amongst that group, shameful and humiliating to the profession, I know), it is decidedly so that pets (animals included) feel pain. I’m pretty sure if you don’t know this, you probably don’t care, and you will definitely never read this article. Animals can live happily and safely outdoors, but If you know people that aren’t aware that winter weather brings additional precautions, educate them! If they are resistant and responsible for a pet’s suffering or neglect, report their ass.

2. Indoor pets (distinctly different from those ordinary outside “animals”) may gain a little weight in the winter if their exercise level decreases.

Really? I never stopped to think that less exercise when the weather is cold and I’m too lazy and wimpy to take my dog on as long or frequent of outdoor walks means that Fido and myself are more likely to plump up a bit. Fascinating stuff! I wonder if I can secure any federal funding for a study to back this up.

1. For the last item, I will offer something useful which many pet parents seem to be unaware of. Don’t assume that cooler weather eliminates the threat of diseases like heartworm, which are spread by infected mosquitoes, or other diseases spread by ticks and fleas. These pets have been known to survive well into the winter months, thanks to indoor havens and protected microclimates existing within larger, cooler climate zones. For this reason, I strongly recommend year-round heartworm protection for dogs (cats are debatable and I see both sides of the argument) and year-round flea/tick prevention for both.

This post is not intended to offend anyone, but is simply a means for me to express my frustration with the repetition of content in the veterinary writing world, especially seasonal topics. Though I will undoubtedly continue to write them once my snarky attitude passes (I’ve got to pay the bills somehow after all), I find it a bit dull to say the least. Pet parents are smarter than this.

If you do have any unique ideas that you think are important or useful to help other pet parents prepare for winter with their pets, do please share. There has to be something new to learn out there!

Home Dog Boarding Site Joins with VetLIVE

November 7th, 2012

We Are Pleased to Announce That Home Dog Boarding Site Partners With VetLIVE and are partners

Planning a trip without your dog can often be stressful, but with, making arrangements just became easier. provides a unique alternative to traditional kennels by allowing your dog to stay in a loving home with someone just like you. Since 2011 the Rover community has expanded to thousands of cities across the U.S., and with more than 70,000 members it makes finding the perfect dog sitter a snap.

As a dog-care industry leader, was founded on the commitment to provide peace of mind for owners, and safety for dogs. Unlike caged kennel facilities, allows sitters to care for dogs in their own home as well as the dog’s home; wherever the dog will be most comfortable!

“Cages can’t cuddle. We believe people feel much more at ease knowing that their dogs are receiving real love, in real homes when they are away” explains Aaron Easterly, CEO at “A significant goal of is to give pet owners true peace of mind while their dog is under the care of one of our member-sitters.”

In-home dog care has many benefits for the dog. The stress of a new environment such as a kennel can be very overwhelming for a dog in addition to any separation anxiety they may be experiencing. The most important benefit of in-home boarding is the dogs safety, happiness and parent’s peace of mind.

Home Dog Boarding

Boarding kennels can be very busy which may be distracting to caretakers at the facility. The caretaker may not have the appropriate time to spend with each dog to address its needs, provide the exercise it needs and make sure it is as comfortable as possible. While your dog is with an in-home sitter, they are are treated like the sitter’s own dog in an environment they are completely familiar with. To ease any worries an owner may have, has an insurance and satisfaction guarantee. “We have a community of sitters who love dogs and are committed to the health, safety and well-being of those in their care, so our insurance option just enables us to meet their goal and ours,” says Easterly. A new added bonus is our new partnership which gives members access to 24/7 vet support. helps their members create bark-worthy profiles by encouraging them to include photos, credentials, past and current experience, home details and other relevant information. Badges on sitter profiles indicate certifications such as CPR and First Aid. Profiles allow pet owners to learn about their potential sitter and to help them feel at ease about the person they are contacting. makes offering your pet sitting services easy and simple. Being a sitter is a great way to earn money while doing something you love – caring for dogs!

Perhaps the best part about being a Rover sitter is the opportunity to help the dog community through’s Sit a Dog, Save a LifeTM program, which enables sitters to donate a portion of their dog-sitting proceeds to participating charities. encourages a meet-n-greet with the sitter before the stay, so dogs and owners feel comfortable with the choice. Before the stay, owners receive an itinerary with important information such as feeding instructions and Veterinary care details. During the time of care, sitters and owners can take advantage of the Rover mobile app to check-in, share photos and log activities like walks or trips to the park.

We are beyond thrilled for our new partnership with and hope you utilize their services the next time you travel without your pet! Check out for more information.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Dr. Laci Schaible

Ask a vet about dog eye problems, diagnosis, and treatment

September 18th, 2012

Dog eye problems – ask a vet for online advice

From time to time, VetLive likes to publish some of their consults. Here is a question from a pet parent about her dog’s eye that is under treatment by her regular veterinarian.  Though her regular veterinarian recommended the pet be evaluated by an opthalmologist, the client did not understand the importannce of this and her appointment was for three weeks away.  The eye had worsened since the veterinarian last saw him and the pet may have lost his eye by the time three weeks passed.  He would have needed an expensive enucleation surgery at that point and been without an eye at 10 weeks old.

My 10 week old pugs eye has gone opaque. We took him into the vet and she prescribed us a pill antibiotic and two diffferent eye drops. He can now keep his eye open, but since yesterday his eye has gone red around the opaque part.

Dear Kathy,

I don’t think that this is an emergency from what you described… especially since Phineas is under therapy for an eye infection right now. But in order to give you a better and more accurate response, if you could upload a close-up picture the eye, I will be better able to evaluate it and in a few hours can give you a detailed answer. Also, I have a few more questions:

1. Was the cause of the lesion identified by the vet (i.e. a scratch, foreign body, etc.), or was the cause unknown?
2. Were the words “corneal ulcer”, or just “ulcer” ever used?
3. What medications is Phineas on (please just transcribe the names and ingredients)
4. Once again, a photo speaks a thousand words

Sorry for all the questions right back at you, but I want to help you (and Phineas), the very best I can.

Best Regards,

Dr. Jed

Best picture I can get. He’s a very ambitious 10 week old and doesn’t like to sit still!

Dog eye problems opthalmologist

Vet did a test on his eye to determine that there was no ulcer, but something did hit his eye. She described the opaqueness as bacteria behind the eye. She said she is very concerned, and referred me to a Vet Vision Dr.

Medications are:
1. Eye Drops-Gentamicin Sulfate Ophthalmic Solution 0.3% to be given every 8 hours.
2. Atropine Sulfate Ophthalmic Solution 1% to be given every 12 hours until pupil dilates, then once a day. (We can’t even see his pupil to determine that..?)
3. Pill. Antirobe Caps. Every 12 hours. 25mg.

He is acting completely normal and is having fun with his brother..we have not determined if we think he can see out of that eye yet, he doesn’t seem to run into anything.

There are a few things I am concerned about:

1. The new appearing redness at the periphery of the eye. This could be one of several things. First, it could be neovascularization which is new blood vessels that form in order to help the eye heal. It could also be irritated tissues due to worsening of the infection. Either way, magnification and an opthalmascope would be needed to evaluate the eye, in person.

2. This is a serious eye problem. Whenever the eye is insulted so much that it becomes cloudy, you have to worry about inflammation of the eye (called uveitis) and increased pressure in the eye (called glaucoma). Measuring the eye pressure regularly is something that is important. Most vets have a tono-pen that they can use to carry out tonometry to measure the intraocular pressure. There is a normal range that it should be within. Low pressure can indicate that uveitis is going on. High pressure means glaucoma. Uveitis can even lead to glaucoma (I attached a handout on glaucoma just in case you need it down the line). Either way this will likely change the regimen of medications. Therefore, if there was a change in they eye in my dog with opacity such as Phineas and new redness, I would want the eye pressure also re-evaluated. Furthermore, the fact that atropine is being given is an indication that the vet is trying to prevent these two problems. An increased eye pressure for an extended period of time will lead to blindness. If this is picked up early, there are medications to treat it.

In summary, if this were my puppy and there was a change in the eye (which is hopefully just scleritis – inflammation of the sclera), I would want the eye pressure re-evaluated and another opthalmic exam, hopefully by that Vet Vision doctor as soon as you could get in. There is just so much for Phineas to lose that it would be a shame not to. I am sorry I couldn’t tell you otherwise, but in my experience, acute changes in opaque eyes is something that warrants further investigation.

Let’s hope that I am being overly cautious and that Phineas’ exam shows that the redness is just part of the healing process. I wish you two the very best.

Dr. Jed

Thank you very much. So in your professional opinion, do you think he can currently see out of that eye?..and do you think, with the way it looks..that it can be saved? I really hate for him to lose his eye at such a young age..and I love him to death, just looking at it makes me sad.

Our appointment is not until the 9th. Should I call and beg for an earlier appointment?

I am sure he can see light in that eye if his retina is fine, but the opacity has affected visual acuity. I have seen opaque eyes clear up and vision return to normal or near normal. Just do everything that your ophthalmologist says to the best of your ability and make sure to store the medications appropriately and that is all you can do.

One more thing- I want to be more clear… You either need to call and beg the referral hospital to get seen asap or is that doesn’t work you need to get your vet to referr you to another opthalmologist. That is what I would do if it was my puppy. At the very least, you need to check back with your vet because of the redness and for an exam.  You sound like a fantastic pet owner- so I know you will.

Dr. Jed

Thank you very much for the help! I can sleep easier now! :)

How To Keep Dogs Safe From Summer Heat

August 8th, 2012

This summer has been unusually hot. Dogs can’t sweat through their fur like we sweat through shirts, so it’s up to you to help your dog survive the heat wave.

Can’t Dogs Handle The Outdoors?

Dogs only have two ways to release heat: by panting and by releasing heat from their paws. That’s it. As summer wears on, it’s critical that you keep your dog cool. If they get too hot and can’t release heat fast enough, heat stroke strikes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Veterinarian dumps dead patients into the woods

June 12th, 2012

Veterinary news is not always the most exciting to pet parents…we’ve heard our pets are fat time and again, pharmaceutical companies will always be restructuring, and the other day some vet was arrested for illegally dumping his dead patients bodies into the woods…huh?

Andrew Manesis, DVM

That’s right, Andrew Manesis, DVM, of the Bronx in New York City, was arrested May 25 for allegedly dumping 35 pet carcasses in the woods along the Hutchinson River Parkway. They were discovered when transporation employees were mowing and mulching.

It seems all the pets died or natural causes or were euthanized and animal cruelty (in the strickest sense of the word) is not suspected, but I think the pet parents of the deceased might beg to differ.

It seems the pet parents paid Dr. Manesis for a company to pick up their pets and perform group cremation but detectives found no such indication that the veterinarian had any tranactions with any group cremation group for the last six months.

Handling deceased pets with care and respect after their grieving owners leave the hospital is something I hope veterinarians and their staff take very seriously. I can’t believe this vet loaded them up in garbage bags and pulled off the side of the road and dumped them. How dispicable.

While he has been charged with four misdemeanors, this seems a gross misfit of punishment for the deed. I can’t help but wonder, why would a veterinarian do this? Financial problems? Lack of compassion? Brain tumor?

Dr. Laci

Ask a vet for advice on choosing a pet

May 18th, 2012
online vetPart 2, by Online Vet Dr. Laci

Trying to answer the question, “What breed is best for my home and family?”

Okay, you’ve decided if you are going to go dog or cat, but the the next decision is a bit more difficult. Whether it is important to you to go with a purebred or a mixed breed is something you should spend a lot of time deciding. By selecting a mixed breed from a pound or a purebred from a breed-specific rescue agency, an abandoned animal will be re-homed so this is really something to consider. You will be changing the world for this pet! Also, with a mixed breed, some of the genetic problems associated with inbreeding can be avoided and the initial cost to acquire the pet will be considerably lower by sticking with a mixed breed.

If you are set upon a certain breed, the best way to predict the attitude and physical attributes of an adult pet is to do your research about their parentage–and don’t cut corners. Unless you know the parents, it is merely a guessing game trying to predict the size, health, or behaviors the pet will develop as they grow up. It sort of defeats the point of getting a purebred in the first place and you might as well adopt or rescue. In contrast, selecting an adult, something that often not considered, whether rescue or purebreed, allows you to actually see their physical characteristics, health and behavior of the animal. You also skip many frustrating steps of puppyhood when you adopt an adult. Read the rest of this entry »

Online vet advice to keep your pet safe at Easter

April 6th, 2012

online vet advice, ask a vetEaster is a very fun time of your for children and adults alike, but there are some dangers that the pastel holiday poses to our pets. Ask a vet and they are certain to agree that the following items are off limits.

Chocolate is toxic for dogs and cats as well.

Foods containing the artificial sweetener xylitol (think candy, gum, many baked goods and even toothpaste) which can cause a fatal drop in blood pressure and death.

Easter basket grass can cause intestinal obstruction in cats and smaller dogs and may lead to emergency surgery.

easter food toxic for dogsEaster lilies are highly toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure and even death.

Also posing a risk are candy wrappers, sticks and plastic eggs.

If your Easter dinner contains any atypical holiday foods, here are some friendly reminders for foods that are toxic to dogs and cats: Read the rest of this entry »

Just for fun – Online Vet Dr. Laci

April 4th, 2012

Bird dog

online vet

This breeder really crossed the line--or several

Happy Wednesday!

Dr. Laci

online vet

Ask a vet for advice on choosing a pet

March 30th, 2012
By Online Vet Dr. Laci

ask a vet, online vet, online vet reviewsWhen I asked once on our Facebook page how pet parents chose their pets, the overwhelming majority say that their pet chose them. While it certainly is important to have that “chemistry” and initial exciting spark about a pet that you are considering sharing your life with (potentially for close to 20 years for some pets), it is also wise to follow some guidelines in selecting a pet.

Seeking guidance before obtaining a new pet can prevent countless behavior and health problems in pets. There are so many things to consider! You must not only decide how to select the best pet for your household, but also prepare in advance for the new arrival. Ask a vet or pet expert and they will tell you topics to consider include the species, breed, age, and sex of the pet, where to obtain the pet (rescue or breeder, just not a puppy mill or pet store please!) and how the kennel, breeder, and pets can best be assessed. As for the “homework” you must do before Fido or Fluffy arrives, you should decide where the pet will be housed, what type of bedding, feeding, training, exercise, scheduling, veterinary care, and if pet insurance is something you are interested in.

The lifespan of pets:

    Pet Average Lifespan
    Cats 14 years or more
    Dogs 10 years or more
    Goldfish 2 years or more
    Birds 7 to 80 years
    Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, Mice 2 to 10 years
    Reptiles 2 to 20 years

What pet might be best for my family?
The primary reason that pet owners might one day need to relinquish their pets is because of the unrealistic expectations that they had when they first entered into pet ownership—too much time, too many accidents, restricting your spontaneous schedule, Read the rest of this entry »