There are few activities that will strengthen the human-animal bond and connect one with Mother Nature better than a camping trip under the stars. Following a few simple tips will ensure your camping getaway is safe and enjoyable for both humans and pets alike.
Before Your Trip
Your Pet’s Health
- Ensure your pooch is in good overall health before beginning your trip. Many avid campers will visit their veterinarian for a wellness checkup prior to their getaway.
- Bring a copy of your dog’s health records and vaccinations, and emergency contact information.
Check with the Campground
- Familiarize yourself with the campground’s policies regarding pets.
- If the campgrounds do not have a safe and reliable water supply, bring plenty of fresh clean water for the whole family.
- To avoid digestive upset, pack the same food your dog eats at home. Be sure to include a little extra just in case. In the event of sudden digestive upset, Pepto Bismol swallowable capsules are an effective quick fix.
- Include a first-aid kit – you never know when you’re going to need it.
- Don’t forget about the bugs! Use a pet-friendly mosquito repellent.
- Pack some familiar toys, treats, and a comfy surface for your dog to lie on.
Prepare Your Pet for the Trip
- If your dog isn’t yet comfortable going on lengthy car rides, start by taking him for short trips around the neighbourhood – starting with short trips and gradually making them longer. And make the ride fun, not every car ride has to be a scary visit to the vet.
- At first, tents can be a scary thing for many dogs. Setting up a tent in your backyard ahead of time will help familiarize dog to this new environment.
During Your Trip
Food and Water
- This goes without saying, but it is absolutely essential that your dog has a ready supply of fresh clean water, and food when necessary. Many dogs are highly active during camping trips, and may need more water and food as a result.
- Your dog may be exposed to a variety of health hazards around standing bodies of water. Keep him away as best you can.
- All campgrounds will have rules regarding on-leash and off-leash allowances for pets. Keeping your dog on-leash will not only keep your pooch safely by your side, it will also prevent him from becoming an unwelcomed guest at someone else’s campsite.
- Always have pickup bags on the ready, and please pick up after your pet – even if it’s in the bush. The woods are often used by hikers, bikers, and other pets.
- Make sure to responsibly store all food products in a safe and responsible way to keep wandering animals from visiting.
- Your dog should always have access to a safe and comfortable place to rest. Whether it’s a crate, puppy pen, or a bed, use your best judgement as to what is most suitable given the situation.
- Dogs should always be kept a safe distance away from a campfire.
- Regularly check your pets (and yourself) for parasites – especially ticks. Be sure to thoroughly check your pet’s whole body, especially in the armpits, near the privates, and around the head.
And last but not least, the two most important rules of camping with your dog:
Use good judgement and have fun!
Brandon Forder is an animal health expert and co-owner of Canadian Pet Connection; an industry leader in nutrition, behaviour and healthy lifestyles for pets for more than twenty years. Get to know us! www.canadianpetconnection.com.