Many people are wary of taking their dog on a sailing holiday to Croatia because they worry that their pet may be uncomfortable or unsafe aboard a sailboat. However, dogs, cats and other animals have been travelling on ships for centuries and there is no reason to leave them at home when going on vacation. Owners must simply know how to plan a cruise with a pet onboard and ensure their dogs' safety just as they would on land. Once they are used to the nautical life, dogs will get great pleasure on a sailing vacation.
Croatia is a very pet-friendly sailing destination, with countless isolated beaches where dogs can enjoy their vacation as much as their human companions do. Most public beaches prohibit dogs from entering, but there are also many that allow them to get their share of the sun and sea. These beaches usually have a blue sign with a dog on it to let owners know that it is safe to bring their pet.
Podvorska Beach in Crikvenica with Croatia's first dog café is probably the best-known one. Rated as the top dog beach on the Adriatic, it combines beautiful scenery with a friendly, positive atmosphere. Other beaches in the Kvarner region include Vela Beach in Baška and Kijac in Njivice on Krk Island, Punta Kolova near Opatija, Vlaška Bay in Senj, Veli Žal on Lošinj, and several beaches in the city of Rijeka.
Istria also has a number of beaches open to four-legged pets. These include Laguna Beach in Umag, the dog beach in Savudrija, Beach Bijar and Camp Slatina Beach on Cres Island, Camp Beach Istria in Rovinj and Štinjanska Bay, Saccorgianne and Verudela in the city of Pula.
The most famous dog-friendly beaches in Dalmatia include Zlatni Rat in Bol, Vartalac in Komiža, Jezera on Murter Island, Kasuni (Kašjuni) in Split and Mlini near Dubrovnik.
Before bringing a dog on a sailing trip, owners must know how to prepare and how to protect their pet from various hazards that lurk onboard a sailboat. Safety precautions that must be taken include making sure that the dog does not jump or fall off the boat, get seasick, or suffer from heat
exhaustion or hypothermia. Motion sickness can be prevented by administering an anti-nausea drug a few hours before setting sail. Dogs are also susceptible to sunburn, especially around the nose, ears and belly, and these areas should be covered with sunscreen or zinc oxide.
When travelling long distance with a dog, owners must also ensure their pet's comfort. In addition to a supply of food and water, dogs must have a comfortable place to rest and be protected from the elements.
When docking in a new port, a dog should have an ID tag with basic information about the owner, including a contact number, as well as the boat's make and registration number. All animals arriving in Croatia must have a passport, a general health certificate with the pet vaccination record, as well as a veterinary certificate showing that they have been inoculated against rabies in the previous 6 months.
Dog boating harness and pet flotation devices are available in various sizes and should be tested in the water before the trip to make sure the dog becomes familiar with them and that they provide adequate support. A safety net is advisable for active pets and a life jacket or a harness is a must. A harness is more comfortable for pets, especially if the weather is too warm, and it allows owners to easily help their dog out of the water.
For sailing distances longer than 3-5 hours, owners will need a specially constructed dog toilet, which can be just a patch of artificial turf or a cat toilet for smaller dogs. These should be placed under the deck to ensure stability.
Stairs must also be adapted to make it easy for dogs to move around. This can be achieved by simply placing a plank on them.
With safety and comfort ensured, dogs can enjoy a sailing trip to Croatia as much as their owners do. With many long walks in the green Mediterranean landscapes and lots of playtime on Croatia's beautiful beaches, owners can enjoy their pet's company even on a longer cruise, while dogs can have their own Mediterranean adventure.