If you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, you might be thinking if taking your dog camping is a wise idea. The good news is that most dogs would be delighted to accompany you on a wilderness excursion.
However, there are a few things to consider before loading up the car and heading to your camping with your four-legged companion. Here are some suggestions for making your camping vacation with Fido safe (and enjoyable!).
1. Plan Ahead
When planning a camping vacation with your four-legged companion, make sure you check off a few crucial items on your to-do list before you go. To begin, book your campground ahead of time (especially during busy travel or vacation periods) and double-check the pet restrictions and any rules that apply to canine visitors. You should also design a route that includes stops where your dog may relieve himself and receive some exercise.
2. Invest in the Right Gear
Most experienced campers will tell you that having the appropriate equipment can make all the difference, and your canine friend is no exception. If you haven't already, you should consider investing in high-quality gear for your dog, such as a solid and properly-fitted harness or a set of durable food and water bowls, to assist ensure a successful camping trip.
3. Make Sure Your Dog Has ID
Like every other time you leave your house—especially for a long length of time like a trip or vacation—make sure your dog's collar tag and microchip registration are current. While most dogs like being outside, it's all too easy for them to become overwhelmed by the sights and scents of the woods and wander off to investigate or chase down a squirrel or rabbit.
Because mobile coverage may be spotty in the woods, you might want to consider attaching the phone number of your veterinarian or another emergency contact to a tag on your dog's collar just in case you can't be contacted right away.
There's also new technology such as GPS dog trackers and collars that can help you find your dog if they have a tendency to wander off.
4. Visit the Vet
It's usually a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian before going on any kind of trip with your dog. You'll want to make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations (particularly if the campsite requires them for admittance) and that he or she doesn't have any health conditions that might make camping dangerous for them. Your veterinarian can also clip your dog's nails to keep them from getting stuck on anything when they're outside.
5. Don't Forget the Food
Although it may be tempting to share that delicious campfire food with your dog (especially as he or she looks at you with longing eyes), you should try to keep your dog's diet as normal as possible during your trip to avoid stomach upset like diarrhea or vomiting, as well as more serious conditions like pancreatitis. A simply cooked piece of chicken or fish with no extra salt or spices is usually fine, but fatty trimmings and other oily foods might be hazardous to your dog.
To avoid heat stroke, make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times and a covered location to rest—especially if you're camping during the summer months. And if you believe you can just give your dog a drink from a pond or stream, think again. The water might include toxic algae and/or parasites for pets.
Corn cobs and other camping favorites like s'mores should be avoided since they can be lethal to dogs—corn cobs can cause life-threatening intestinal obstructions, and the chocolate in everyone's favorite campfire treat is poisonous to dogs.
6. Bring Emergency Supplies
If you're a frequent camper, you probably already have some basic first-aid materials in your bag, such as bandages for cuts and scrapes and moleskin for blistering feet. However, if you're taking your dog camping, you should be prepared for any canine-specific emergency.
If your dog is currently on medicine, for example, make sure you bring it with you. If you have a breed that is extremely active and high-energy, supplies like gauze, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, or medical tape may be useful in the event of any physical injuries. Antibiotic ointment, vet wrap, or foot balm are some possible emergency supplies to protect their paws.
7. Know How to Remain Calm
You may carry all of the first aid equipment you'll ever need, but they'll be useless if you don't know how to stay cool and respond in an emergency situation—let alone utilize those products properly. If your dog has been hurt, it's critical to keep your cool and manage the matter as soon as possible, whether it's an animal bite or your dog is showing signs of heat stroke. Dogs are highly perceptive, and they'll be able to tell if you're worried, making them more inclined to act out.
Check local outdoor supply businesses to see if they offer wilderness first aid lessons if you feel your emergency response abilities may use some work. Courses devoted to teaching first aid for your dog are available from organizations like the Red Cross and even certain community colleges.
8. Watch Out for Wildlife
When you go camping, you may expect to come across a variety of animals in the woods. However, you don't want your dog to come into contact with a or skunk, and you definitely don't want him to come into contact with a larger, more deadly animal like a bear, wolf, or venomous snake. Even if your dog is allowed to run free on your land, you should bring a long leash and keep them near to avoid tangling with wild animals.
9. Stay Close
Keep in mind that, in addition to a lengthy leash, your pet should never be out of your sight when camping (or during travel in general). Your dog may be the life of the party at home, but when introduced to a new setting, he or she may become nervous, distant, or even hostile, so never make assumptions about how your dog will act with other people or animals. Keep your dog near at all times, even at the campground, in the car, and during any outside activities, for their protection.
10. Pack the Extra Blankets
While it's simple for people to dry off after a swim in the lake, if your four-legged pet enjoys swimming, make sure you have enough of towels and blankets on available to help them dry off (and keep them warm as the temperature drops in the evening hours). Towels and rags may also be utilized in an emergency, and they will come in useful in the event of a sudden rain.
A canine life jacket is also recommended, especially if you plan on taking your dog canoeing or kayaking on a body of water. Your dog may be able to swim in a pool, but they would be safer using a flotation device in a huge body of water with new experiences in that environment and the chance of no nearby land.
11. Beat the Bugs
If your dog isn't on a monthly flea and tick preventative, now is the time to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Unwanted visitors latching onto your pet is the last thing you want. Tweezers are probably already in your first-aid box, but you might want to acquire a tick removal tool like the Tick Twister, which can help you remove a tick from your dog. Make sure you know how to properly examine your dog for ticks and how to recognize the symptoms of tick-borne disease.
12. Stick to Your Routine
Your dog has become accustomed to a specific pattern and may not respond well to having it knocked out of whack with a weekend or week-long camping vacation, much as children may display behavioral changes when their schedule is wrong. While some dogs are laid-back and content to go with the flow, some aren't, so try to stick to their normal feeding and walking schedules and keep an eye out for any indications of anxiety, like as panting, pacing, or even shivering. If your dog is afraid of or fireworks, you should keep an eye on the weather forecast and avoid camping around holidays featuring pyrotechnics, such as Memorial Day or July 4th.
It can also help to pack their comfortable dog bed and maybe even bring a familiar toy or blanket, all of which may be enough to make your dog feel at ease in a new environment for a few nights.