Coastal Boating, Sailing, Cruising, Yachting, Racing, Coastal, Sailboat, Yacht, Fleet, Club, Regatta, Commodore, One design, Social, Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Island, Seamanship, NE waters, NOAA, NWS



Captain Doctor Dave ’s Wilderness Veterinary Companion for Cruisers and other Outbackers

by David W. LaVigne , BS, DVM

Thank you Doctor Dave for a practical onboard resource that’s a MUST for cruisers to have aboard when traveling with their pets.  It is chock full of practical advice about dealing with the potential problems likely to be encountered where or when there is little access to professional help.  It is focused almost entirely on dogs and cats, with warnings about traveling with other species as companions.  (The concern about birds as pets is particularly poignant now with the spread of bird flu in many regions.) The new edition issued in 2012 in paperback under the title, Where There Is No Pet Doctor, is a bit less expensive than the original.

This resource covers everything you need to know from what vaccinations and health certifications your pet needs before leaving to what emergency measures you can take if your pet takes ill or suffers an injury.  He also rates the procedures as to how likely you are to succeed given specified levels of experience and proficiency in medical/veterinary procedures.  One thing I’d like to see in future editions, if possible, is reference to what might be an alternative approach in cases where a procedure might require a higher level of skill or confidence than I might have. 

One of the resources in this book we found most helpful is the list of medications, both veterinary and human, with guidelines on proper dosing for animals.  Of particular interest are the warnings about toxicities of certain dog products for cats and vice versa.  I would have never thought of that on my own. 

Interestingly, Dr. Dave notes that flea and tick treatments are toxic, and we certainly saw that with our cruising kitty, Onyx.  The topical solution we administered when she was about a year old ago caused her to have a serious reaction, where her nervous system was obviously affected causing her to lose coordination and panic. Luckily, we reacted quickly and removed as much of the solution as we could; she recovered in about an hour or so.  Our veterinarian, who is one of the best, had not had any previous reports of this nature.  He did call it in to the manufacturer, which was the right thing to do. 

Perhaps most useful are discussions about how to restrain animals and how to actually deliver medications, both oral and injectable.  Holding the animal who is in pain or frightened can be quite difficult.  The procedures Dr. Dave outlines are pretty straightforward and make a lot of sense. 

One note.  We’ve found a way to deliver solutions orally to our cat that is almost foolproof and not mentioned here.  Rather than squirting into the mouth directly, we squirt it between the cheek and gum into the side pouch of her mouth.  She then swallows at her leisure rather than feeling like she’s being choked, and she can't really spit it out.  Perhaps this will help you with yours!

The book is directed at an educated audience, and Dr Dave has definite opinions on certain matters, which are voiced with some fervor.  Better to have an opinion and voice it, than to leave it unsaid in our opinion! 

Thanks Dr. Dave . Wilderness Veterinary Companion for Cruisers is likely to become the pet owners’ bible for liveaboards.  We know this resource would be useful for RV campers and others who travel through remote areas with their beloved pets as well.  Dr. Dave ’s book is available on, and it is sold via link from his website to, a self-publisher’s distribution site.  Just follow this link

(Please disable your adblocker for better viewing)

Joy of sailingCoastal Boating (Reg. in Ireland No. 443222) is a division of Knowledge Clinic Ltd.
Port Aleria, Rosnakilly, Kilmeena, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland - USA: PO Box 726, Mahwah, NJ 07430
All content on this site is subject to Copyright© - All rights reserved.
Contact us - Advertising - Privacy - Terms & Conditions - Copyright & Trademark - Webmaster