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Going camping is a popular family activity, and an increasing number of pet owners are including their dogs in the fun. For those of you who plan to take your dog along for an outdoor adventure this summer or fall, here are some useful canine camping safety tips.
Before You Go
- Check the regulations of your destination. Find out whether dogs are allowed in the park, on the hiking trails, and at the campsites. The National Park Service has a detailed map available of campsites in the national park system that allow dogs. State and local parks will also provide information on their websites about whether dogs are welcome.
- Consider whether you and your dog will enjoy the experience of camping together. A dog that barks a lot, has no obedience skills, is afraid of strangers, or is anxious may not be ready to go camping. If the weather is extreme – too hot or too cold – your dog may also be safer and happier staying home.
- Pay a visit to the veterinarian before you go. Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are all up-to-date, and take a copy of the vaccination records in case of an emergency.
- Be prepared for bugs. All sorts of insects, including fleas and ticks, run rampant in wooded areas where campsites are often located. Give your dog flea and tick prevention treatments before your trip.
- Trim your dog’s nails. Make sure you trim long, sharp nails, which can be tough on tent material.
- Update ID information. Identification is extremely important in case your dog gets lost. In addition to making sure the phone number on your dog’s ID tag is current, check with your microchip recovery service provider to ensure that your contact information is still accurate. If you have not yet enrolled your dog’s microchip ID number with a lost pet recovery service, check out AKC Reunite.
- Equip yourself for emergencies. Pack a pet first-aid kit to take with you. It’s also a good idea to find out where the closest veterinary clinic is located.
While You’re There
- Keep your dog with you at all times, day and night. Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle. When you leave the campsite, they go with you. When you go into your tent to sleep, they stay with you. (You can bring a dog bed and an extra dog towel to wipe off muddy paws.)
- Make sure there’s fresh drinking water available at all times. If there isn’t, you should carry in a good supply in a portable dog water bottle, along with dog food and lightweight, collapsible bowls. (If you’re backpacking, consider bringing a dog pack, so your pet can carry their own supplies.)
- Clean up after your dog. Be sure to bring poop bags, so you can pick up and dispose of any waste.
- Check your dog at the end of each day. Inspect your dog from nose to tail at the end of each day. Look through their coat and remove ticks, foxtails, and hair mats at the end of each day. Bring your dog’s brush or comb to help you get rid of unwanted debris.
- Be considerate of your neighbors. It’s a joy and privilege to be able to bring your canine pal along. Keep your dog quiet and away from other campers and their food, and from strange dogs.
What to Pack in a First-Aid Kit for Your Dog
Whenever you travel with your dog, it’s important to take a copy of their medical records, including vaccinations for rabies and other diseases. You will also need to carry emergency telephone numbers for your veterinarian, a nearby emergency veterinary clinic, and a poison control center hotline.
Carrying a travel version of a pet first-aid manual can also be extremely helpful. In addition, a useful first-aid kit includes:
- Antiseptic/antibacterial cleaning wipes, ointment, or spray
- Saline wound cleanser
- Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting
- Diarrhea remedy (check your vet for recommendations)
- Allergy tablets such as Benadryl (ask your vet first about the safe remedies for your dog and dosage)
- Sterile gauze
- Self-adhering, flexible bandage tape
- Cotton balls
- Sock to wrap around a paw
- Popsicle sticks/wooden paint stirrers for splinting