Camping Safety With Dogs

A dog peeps into a yellow tent

For many of us, camping is the ultimate outdoor experience, with plenty of options for adventure and relaxation in nature. Of course, camping wouldn’t be camping without our four-legged best friends along. But how to keep them safe in the wild? 

With a little awareness and some advance preparation, you can make sure your camping adventure with pets is safe and fun. Let Berks Animal Emergency and Referral Center be your guide when it comes to camping safety with dogs.

Your Health and Safety Checklist

Before you hit the trail, it’s important to have a few safety basics in your pocket. Here are some tips:

  • Basic obedience is a must. Nature can be unpredictable, and so can your dog. Your dog should have a strong recall, a reliable “leave it” command, and good overall basic manners
  • Ensure your dog is healthy and well enough to travel by visiting your veterinarian before you go. Parasites abound in water, soil, and vegetation, so great parasite protection is critical. Infectious diseases can be prevented with a smart vaccination plan, so let your veterinarian know where you plan to camp so they can make sure your dog stays protected. 

They can also check the microchip to make sure it’s registered with your correct contact information, just in case.

  • Camping gear can be foreign to some dogs, so get everything out ahead of time. This lets you check your gear with a backyard test run, and it also lets your dog acclimate to the things he’ll see and experience – like the tent, lanterns, headlamps, and stove. 
  • Research your spot. It’s easy to check out your campsite ahead of time with the internet. Make sure all your stops are dog-friendly. Some camping spots even cater to pet owners, with doggy clean-up stations, fenced off-leash play areas, and dog swimming allowed. While you’re at it, don’t forget to locate the nearest emergency veterinary hospital and program their phone number and address into your phone.

Packing Up

You’ll want to pack your dog’s essentials, of course.  Remember to pack his bedding, crate, leash and collar, toys, food and food and water bowls, brush, and any medications he needs. 

You may also need to pack plenty of fresh water for him since drinking from open water sources is not safe. 

A pet first aid kit is essential when striking out into nature. 

Camping Safety with Pets

If you’re hiking with your dog, bring a backpack for him and a dog water bottle as well. Remember to clean up after your dog, even in the backcountry – pet waste is not fertilizer.

Know that your dog will be your constant companion while camping. Never leave your pet in a parked car or alone at the campsite. Bring a tie out to use while you’re in camp to keep them leashed while you have your hands free.

Other camping essentials to know:

Water and shade – Your dog should have free access to both at all times. Watch your pet for signs of dehydration and heat stress, and check and refill the water bowl often. Pitch your tent in a shady area and bring a canopy for extra shade. 

Towels and blankets – An extra blanket next to your chair can give your dog a comfortable place to relax while you’re enjoying the campfire. Towels are great for drying off after a swim and wiping muddy paws before coming into the tent.

Chew toys – Give your dog an activity while you’re making breakfast or relaxing with family and friends.  Bring her favorite toys, but make sure they won’t attract wildlife.

Check your dog – Start with a tick check every day, and while you’re at it, check for burrs and foxtails, too. These can all become major problems if not removed right away. Check her paw pads for lacerations or burns. A paw balm or dog booties might be helpful to have on hand. 

Are you a seasoned dog camper with something to add? Let us know the next time you’re in or post on our Facebook page. If you have any questions about camping safety with dogs, please reach out to our team.