Ahh, the great outdoors. You love it and your pup loves it. Every summer, I just can’t wait to pack up my camping gear and heed nature’s call (wait, am I using that expression right?). Anyway, if you’re thinking about taking your dog camping with you for the first time, or the hundredth time, there’s a lot to consider to be sure your best bud and your neighboring campers have a great time. For instance, where’s the best place for your dog to sleep? The tent or a dog camping crate? What are the best dog-friendly campgrounds near you? What vaccinations are important to be sure your dog doesn’t get sick while camping? We’ve got a checklist you can follow for a fun trip with Fido.
First, talk to your vet:
If you’re camping in the woods, Lyme disease can be a real risk. Lyme disease is carried by ticks, which just love to latch on to your dog’s skin and even you. Another risk can be rabies from other animals and wildlife. Talk to your vet to be sure your dog is current on all the necessary vaccinations, flea, and tick control. Heartworms can also be a concern, which can be transmitted by mosquito bites. Luckily, all of these can easily be prevented with the right treatments ahead of time so you have a happy, healthy pup.
Get the proper identification:
It’s always important to have identification on your dog in case he gets lost. If you’re camping, you want to be able to be contacted immediately, so it’s a good idea to list a cellphone on your dog’s tag. You can go a step further by getting a microchip for your dog that can be scanned by a clinic or shelter so they can contact you. It’s also a good idea to keep a recent photo of your pet on hand if you need help finding him. If your dog is picked up by a shelter, many will post photos on their websites as soon as they are kenneled. You can also use a service like Finding Rover - a free facial recognition app for your phone.
Find a dog-friendly campground near you:
Most campgrounds allow dogs, but not all. BringFido.com has an excellent list of dog-friendly campgrounds. You can even filter the results to the specific area you’re traveling to.
Pack the right gear:
There are all kinds of convenient, lightweight, collapsable bowls and food holders that make bringing the right supplies on your camping trip a breeze. Pack your own gallon of water in case there isn’t a water supply at your campsite. Your dog should stick to the same diet he’s used to at home while away. Pack enough food and treats for the duration of your stay. Try to keep your pooch away from stagnant bodies of water that could make him sick.
If you’re planning on traveling across state lines, take a copy of your dog’s health records and vaccination reports.
Other standard items to bring are a leash, collar or harness, a carrier with comfy bedding, a first aid kit and any medications your dog might need, and of course his favorite toys!
Know the campground rules:
Even if a campground allows dogs, they still have rules no matter if they are public or private. Here are some good general guidelines to follow:
- Find out if they allow dogs to sleep outdoors. Many campgrounds require your pup to stay in your tent or in a dog camping crate at night. Do NOT leave your dog in your car or tied to something like a picnic table.
- Keep your dog on a leash to keep your dog from getting lost or injured and to avoid disturbing other campers.
- Pick up your dog’s waste. Nothing is worse than going on a hike and wrecking your shoes / day by stepping in poop. Lots of campgrounds have built-in dog waste bins these days, but it not, bring your baggies and something to keep them in until you are able to properly dispose of the waste.
What to do once you’re at the campsite:
Keep an eye out for your dog at all times and have him avoid campfires and utensils that could possibly hurt him. The natural plants and vegetation can also be hazardous. Things like poison oak, poison ivy, and cactus can make your dog very sick. Check their paws after walks too for thorns and prickers that might have gotten stuck and cause discomfort.
Check your dog’s fur regularly for ticks and other bugs, too. Even if you have the appropriate vaccinations, it’s still a good idea to check. You can remove ticks by grabbing the bug near it’s head, close to your dog’s skin. Pull back gently to release. It’s important to wear gloves while doing this as ticks can transmit diseases to people just as much as they can to dogs.
Most importantly though, have fun! There’s a great big adventure out there waiting for you and your best friend. If you follow our tips, you’ll have memories to last a lifetime.
Have you brought your dog camping with you before? What tips did we miss? Share your own in the comments section below. Happy camping!