The next time you pack up your tent to go camping, consider bringing your best furry-buddy with you. While camping with your dog can be a fun-filled adventure, make preparations to keep him safe, healthy, and happy on your trip. Check that the campground you want to go to allows dogs, and read the rules before hitting the road. Enjoy the great outdoors with your pup by following these dos, don’ts and safety tips.
DO bring your dog’s current rabies vaccination papers. Most pet-friendly campgrounds require proof of a recent rabies vaccination. Some campgrounds will allow your dog’s rabies tag as proof instead of a signed confirmation. Signed copies of vaccination papers can be obtained at your veterinarian’s office.
DO have identification tags up-to-date and clearly visible on your dog’s collar. The tag should include your dog’s name, your name and one or two phone numbers where you can be reached. While some individuals argue that having an identification tag on a dog can result in an increased risk of theft for the purpose of ransom, an identification tag is the fastest way a lost dog is returned.
- DON’T rely solely on a microchip. If your dog gets lost in the campground, there aren’t too many people walking around with a microchip scanner. However, if your dog has tags, the person who finds your dog can call you directly or find you through the campground office.
DO pack for your pup. Items such as food and water bowl, medications, flea and tick control, first-aid kit, toys, bedding, towels, extra collar and leash, outdoor runs, bags to pick up waste and grooming tools will help keep your dog comfortable and happy. Unscented baby wipes make for great emergency clean-ups and over-the-counter allergy medications such as Benadryl can help should your dog have a reaction to a bug bite. (Please talk with your vet for proper dosage.)
DO store your dog’s food and treats in a well-sealed container. Depending on where you camp, there will be all types of wildlife who would love to eat your dog’s food, including bears. Consider leaving all food in your car, camper, trailer or RV.
DO take along an orange vest for your dog if it is hunting season. Many campgrounds allow hunting on the premises and your pup should be sporting a bright color to warn hunters. Also take along a Thundershirt, or something similar, if your dog is prone to nervousness. Thunder storms, or even just a hard rain, are a lot louder when you are in a tent. Likewise, if your dog is prone to being cold, pack a sweater because nights can get cold when you are sleeping on the ground.
- DON’T assume your dog will adjust to camping life right away. Sometimes they need a little time to adapt. Whatever you can do to ease your dog into it, the happier you all will be.
DO bring plenty of water if you will not have access to drinking water. A general guideline is one gallon of water per dog, per day. (Also one gallon per person, per day.) It depends on the size and activity level of your dog, as well as the weather, but you can never have too much water with you. Unfortunately, the consequences of too little water are lethal.
DO know where the local emergency veterinarian is located. Keep your own veterinarian’s phone number on hand as well.
- DON’T try to manage the unexpected on your own. If your dog ingests something, is bitten or injures himself, call either your veterinarian or the local vet office. Many veterinarian offices will answer simple questions over the phone, guiding you to take the appropriate steps to treat your dog.
- Follow the campground rules. They were created to keep everyone safe.
- Keep your dog leashed at all times. Even if the park allows off-leash dogs, do not take the chance your pup will chase after the wildlife and be lost in the woods.
- Clean up after your dog and dispose of the waste properly.
- Keep your dog’s barking to a minimum. No one likes to hear a dog barking incessantly.
- Never leave your dog unattended. And never, ever leave your dog alone in a hot car.
- Be mindful of your surroundings: take note of the wildlife – insects, animals and plants – and know which is deadly to your dog. Toads, frogs, snakes, spiders, berries and oak can be poisonous.
- Check your dog over regularly, paying close attention to his paws and in between his toes.
And don’t forget to have fun. Camping with your dog can be a great bonding experience.
Gifford Woods State Park: Pet-friendly campground in VT
Shady Acres: Pet-friendly campground in MA
Wompatuck State Park: Pet-friendly campground in MA
Renting with dogs: When no place to go means being homeless with your pets
Radoslaw Czerkawski, Puppy Doe’s abuser, sentenced for theft
Radoslaw Czerkawski, Puppy Doe’s abuser, found guilty on larceny charges
Who’s poisoning the dogs in Granbury, TX?