How to Camp Safely With Your Dog

a brown and white dog laying in the grass in front of a tent You don’t need me to tell you how camping is one of the best ways to spend your summer. There are so many national and state parks that offer the perfect environment for this summer fun. If you’re like me, you wouldn’t think about a location without considering whether it’s a good choice for your dog. Camping and going on hikes are always a lot more fun with your dog. However, there are a few things to consider that include judging your dog’s readiness for the trip, finding the right camping gear, and essential safety tips and precautions.

Will Your Dog Enjoy Camping?

As much as you might want your dog to come with you while camping, it’s not the right activity for every dog. You might enjoy having your dog with you, but do they enjoy this new experience as much as you do? Ask yourself the following:

  • Does my dog wander a lot?
  • Is my dog nervous around new people or hyper?
  • Are there medical conditions to think about?
  • What are your dog’s leash manners like, if they have them?
  • How noisy does your dog get?
  • Does your dog have strong hunting instincts?

You’ll need to consider the fact that camping provides dogs with a lot of stimulation they don’t get lounging around the house. Because the camping area is a shared space, you’ll want to think about whether your furry friend will get too excited around unfamiliar people. There’s also wildlife to think about.

Sometimes, you need to give your dog time to get used to the experience before the trip. Short trips on local hiking trails can help your dog get used to wildlife and other stimuli. I also recommend getting them used to being on a tether or in a crate while you’re nearby.

I also recommend staying with your pup in a tent before your camping trip. Being inside a tent isn’t every dog’s cup of tea, so it’s better to find out if they’ll adjust sooner, rather than later.

Getting Your Dog Ready For Camping

If you’re up to the challenge of taking your dog camping, you’ll need to take some steps to make sure he’s ready for action. These steps will help ensure your dog’s safety and happiness.

Make Sure Your Dog’s Up-to-Date on Everything

a black and white dog laying down while a vet listens to its heart with a stethoscope Make sure your dog’s vaccines, especially rabies, are updated. A current rabies vaccine is the law, anyway, and they will have protection against other diseases like distemper or Parvo.

Flea and tick treatment is essential since your dog might encounter one or both when wandering outside. Your fellow campers will also appreciate not having fleas or ticks getting into their tents.

Heartworm medication is essential, especially when camping in areas with high mosquito populations. Even though mosquitos are more common in wetland or wooded areas, preventing heartworm disease is a lot easier on you and your dog than having to treat it later.

Proper Identification

A dog should always wear a sturdy collar, with current rabies and identification tags. Make sure the ID tag is easy to read and has a current phone number. You don’t someone who finds your dog to have trouble reaching you. 

Having your dog microchipped provides a means of identification if they lose their collar and increases their chances of being returned to you. Many veterinary hospitals and shelters have scanners that will read most microchips.

Use Temporary Tags

Consider making temporary tags that include your campsite and mobile phone numbers. You’ll avoid confusion that could occur if your vet’s office is that far away from where you’re staying. Someone who finds your dog near the campsite will be able to get them back to you a lot more quickly

Make Sure the Campground Allows Dogs

Although this step seems obvious, you wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve encountered who don’t check, only to have to search for an available boarding option. In addition to finding out if dogs are allowed, find out about any special restrictions, too. Some campgrounds might not allow dogs to go off-leash, others might have restrictions against breeds known to have a higher rate of biting incidents.

Get the Nearest Vet’s Contact Info

Have the contact information for the closest vet to the campground at hand. If your dog should encounter some type of disaster during your trip, having a convenient vet will make a difference. If your dog has any chronic health issues, it might be a good idea to speak to the vet and make them aware of their conditions in case treatment is required during your trip.

Prepare an Emergency Kit for Your Dog

Accidents can happen, even with the most cautious of dog owners. Knowing what to bring along can help you quickly get control of the situation when the worse happens. 

Snake Bite and Jellyfish Treatments

a dead purple jellyfish laying on sand at the beach If your dog gets bitten, time is of the essence, especially considering the severity of reactions to bites. Starting prompt first aid can make all the difference in how well your dog recovers. Any bite from a venomous snake should receive prompt veterinary attention

If you’re camping near a beach, jellyfish treatments are essential. Jellyfish inflict painful stings and are all too common on some beaches. Like snake bites, these are capable of inflicting a lot of pain and causing dangerous reactions, making prompt veterinary attention essential. 

Dog Allergy Pills and Medications

Since you never know what might trigger your pup’s allergies, you need to have these pills at hand. Also, have other medications your dog takes available. Having regular medications available will save you a trip to a veterinarian or pharmacy

Tweezers, Bandages, Splints, Foot Balm

All of these necessities are likely to come in handy during your trip, so you don’t want to forget any of them. Bandages and splints are useful for stabilizing injuries until a vet has a chance to look at them. A set of tweezers will prove helpful if your dog gets a burr or a thorn stuck in their foot. Lastly, foot balm comes in handy when your dog has been doing a lot of walking, particularly on rough trails.

A Muzzle

Even the most sweet-tempered dog can get just a bit nippy if injured or threatened, so a muzzle is a reasonable precaution. Make sure the muzzle is secure, but not so tight that it interferes with your dog’s breathing. You should be able to comfortably fit two fingers between the strap and your dog’s neck.

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is always helpful to keep at hand, especially when you’re away from home. One of the biggest advantages the kit offers is putting most-used first aid supplies in one place. For the best results, use a sturdy plastic, somewhat waterproof container.

Emergency Shock Blanket

Even though the situations where you would use this blanket should hopefully be rare, having one at hand is never a bad idea. The blanket will help your dog stay warm in an emergency. Most are easily reusable as well.

Guidelines for Safe Camping with Your Dog

Camping is an enjoyable activity for both dogs and owners, but common sense precautions should always be taken to ensure everything goes well. 

Understand the Hazards

Camping and hiking in wilderness areas is always enjoyable. However, staying alert for different hazards is essential for your pet’s safety. 

Venomous Animals

Venomous snakes, such as rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins, and coral snakes can be found across America. Venomous spiders such as black widows and brown recluses are also threats. The bites from these creatures are not only painful but can be life-threatening and carry infection risks. 

Poisonous Plants

poison ivy vines growing up the side of a tree trunk Many types of plants are poisonous to dogs. Since you might be unfamiliar with local plants in a different area, it pays to keep an eye on your pooch. Dogs are naturally curious, exploring unfamiliar things by taste, making unfamiliar plants something you need to be careful about.

Standing Water

Standing water might contain bacteria or hazardous chemicals from run-off. Also, the water might be deeper than it appears or contain snakes or dangerous insects. Make sure your dog only drinks from fresh water that you supply.

Supervise Your Dog

As much as your dog might like to take a run through a meadow, keeping them leashed is a good idea. If you let your dog off-leash at any time, watch them. If your dog runs off while your back is turned, it’s going to be extremely difficult to find them again if they aren’t extremely well-trained.

Manage the Noise Level

Your dog’s excited barking that you find so cute might not amuse other campers. Also, most campgrounds have specified quiet times. Keeping your dog’s barking and vocalizing to a minimum will help you stay on good terms with other campers.

Keep Your Dog Warm at Night

No matter what the daytime temperature, the nighttime temperatures might seem considerably cooler when you’re in a tent. Consider bringing your dog’s favorite snuggly blanket or a sweater or jacket for them to wear. Consider bringing your dog’s bed along.

Watch Your Dog’s Energy Levels

Some dogs seem like they have an endless amount of energy, but they can wear themselves down quickly. You especially need to be careful of this during hot weather. The heat can make your dog become dehydrated a lot more easily.

Check Your Dog Regularly

As much fun as the outdoors is for your dog, burrs, cuts, and bites can make things more difficult for your dog. 

Check for Ticks, Bites, Cuts, and Burrs

You’ll want to check for ticks, which can cause illness that we’ll get to in a minute. Also, look for insect bites that can cause allergic reactions, as well as cuts that can become infected and painful burrs. Dogs might not show immediate signs of discomfort after a bite or sting, or picking up a burr.

How to Remove Ticks

Effective tick removal is necessary to help prevent your dog from getting tick-borne illnesses. A tick key is probably the most useful tool for quick removal. Using one of these tools keeps you from crushing the tick or leaving the head attached

What Do You Need to Camp With your Dog?

The right gear makes a difference when you take your dog camping:

Dog Food & Extra Water

Keeping to as regular a routine as possible, including feeding your dog’s regular food, makes everything easier. Using the regular food minimizes the possibility of digestive upsets. Extra water will help your dog stay hydrated if you’re out hiking. 

Food & Water Dishes

Keep food and water dishes, preferable collapsible, with you to avoid spilling food that could attract predators to your campsite. Consider staying with your dog while they eat to avoid attracting other animals, such as skunks or raccoons, that can spread disease and make messes. 

Dog Bedding

a dog laying on a raised camping bed with red and black plaid blankets Comfortable bedding, especially what your dog uses at home, will help keep your dog nice and comfy. The comfier the bedding, the more secure your dog will feel in the tent at night. Bring something that they already like to sleep on to help ensure the best possible experience when it’s time to rest.

Dog Life Vest

If boating or other water sports are on your list while camping, a life vest will give your pooch some extra safety. Even though swimming is instinctive for dogs, not all are strong swimmers, which makes a little extra protection helpful. 

Dog Hiking Boots

Hiking boots aren’t just a good idea for you – they’re also ideal for your dog, to protect rocky terrain, burrs, or bites. If you plan on going on long hikes with your dog, these dog hiking boots are likely to prove very helpful in preventing injury and increasing overall comfort.

Dog Camping Harness

A harness can help keep your dog under better control while walking them. Normal collars can put a lot of stress on your dog’s neck, so you’ll also want to consider a harness when tethering your dog to minimize the risk of neck strain. 

Sturdy Leash

A sturdy leash will help you keep better control over your dog during a hike. You need to make sure the leash will accommodate your dog’s weight, as well as keep your hand comfortable while using it. The material should also be sturdy enough to withstand chewing.

Crate or Dog Fencing

A crate or portable dog fencing are both excellent options for confining your dog when you don’t have them tethered. Fencing also eliminates the possibility of neck injury that could result from tethering. Some types of dog fencing even come with a roof or canopy for better protection.

Stakes for Tethering

If your dog spends any time tethered while under supervision, stakes will help keep their lead more secure. Their leash is less likely to become loose this way, especially if they get distracted easily.

Dog Brush & Tick Key

A brush will help your dog’s coat stay neat and healthy. Should your pup end up with a tick, using a tick key is the easiest way to remove the insect while intact. Checking your dog’s coat for pests frequently is always helpful.

Dog Waste Cleanup Gear

Cleaning up after your dog is part of being a good neighbor to your fellow campers. Also, do you want to step in a nasty, smelly surprise in the middle of the night? Clean campsites make happier campers.

Conclusion

a couple sitting in camping chairs while their dog sits on the ground beside them Taking your dog camping is always a lot of fun. The better prepared you are for your trip, the more opportunity you’ll have to get the most out of the experience. Keeping these tips and pieces of advice in mind can help ensure that both you and your dog have a fun and safe camping trip and leave you excited for the next one.