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Planning A Camping Trip With Your Dog

By Paige Cerulli

When it comes to summertime activities that you and your dog can enjoy together, camping tops the list. You and your best friend can explore new locations, engage in fun activities like swimming and hiking, and enjoy plenty of fresh air in the process.

But a successful camping trip with your dog requires careful planning. The following tips can help ensure that the trip is safe and enjoyable for all attendees — both two-legged and four-legged. 

Look for a dog-friendly campsite

Before you decide on your destination, look for campsites that are dog-friendly. A Google search may bring up some results, but you can also use a site dedicated to helping you find pet-friendly campsites and lodging, like BringFido.

Many campsites are dog-friendly, and some even have special amenities for dogs, like fenced-in dog parks, so you and your dog can better enjoy your stay.

Get the dog-related rules in advance

Even if a campground is dog-friendly, there are still rules that you and your dog will have to follow. Get a copy of these rules in writing in advance. Rules might specify leash requirements, maximum lengths for dog runs and more. Reviewing the rules ahead of time can help you plan and make sure that you and your dog are prepared to follow those rules. 

Dog in Camping Tent

Learn about risks in the area

If you’ll be camping in a very different area, such as traveling out of state, then take some time to learn about the risks your dog might face in the area. For example, ticks are a problem in many areas of the country, and you’ll need to be aware of other wildlife that might be present, like bears or venomous snakes. 

In many areas, brackish water is an often overlooked threat to a dog’s safety. Brackish water is saltier than freshwater, and it can occur in estuaries and other areas where fresh water and salt water mix. Most dogs will naturally avoid brackish water, especially if you give them plenty of fresh water to drink instead. If your dog drinks a little bit of brackish water, he’ll probably have some diarrhea. But if your dog drinks large amounts of brackish water, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and potentially death. Avoid this at all costs.

The best way to protect your dog from risks in the area is to be aware of them and to closely supervise your dog. If you know that certain animals or risks could be present, learn how to handle an emergency, like a snake bite, just in case.

Try out a shorter stay

Going camping for a week or more may sound idyllic, but if you’ve never taken your dog camping before, you might run into some unanticipated challenges. A shorter stay can give both you and your dog a good introduction to the camping experience, helping you to prepare for a longer stay. 

Make your first camping trip an overnight or a weekend. You’ll still enjoy plenty of fun with your dog, and you may discover some ways you can better prepare for the next trip, like bringing along a larger crate or packing booties to protect your dog’s paws. 

Do a dog health checkup

A quick trip to the vet before your camping adventure can help ensure your dog is healthy and protected. Be sure that your dog’s vaccines are up to date, and if he’s not microchipped already, have your vet microchip him before you leave. Some campgrounds may require vaccination certificates, so be sure to schedule this appointment before your camping trip dates. 

This is also a great time to buy any flea and tick or heartworm preventative that you may need. If your dog will be spending time in the woods, then having his flea and tick treatment up to date can help to prevent him from carrying any unwanted visitors back home with you. 

Dog in Field

Pack the essentials

In addition to packing all of your standard camping gear, you’ll also need to make a packing list for your dog. Be sure to include these essentials: 

  • Pet first aid kit
  • Extra water and food
  • Paw booties
  • Vet records
  • Crate and bed
  • Extra towels
  • Poop pick-up bags
  • Spare collar and leash

If your dog is on any medications, it’s also a good idea to bring extra medicine, just in case your stay is unexpectedly extended. 

When you bring your dog on a camping trip, you can spend meaningful time together. Plus, when your entire family is with you, your camping adventures are sure to be more enjoyable and memorable. While you’ll need to do some planning, going camping with your dog is a fabulous way to get away, explore new areas and reconnect with nature with your best friend at your side. 

Paige Cerulli is a freelance writer living in Western Massachusetts. She’s a lifelong animal lover and has worked as a veterinary receptionist, an equine massage therapist and more. Paige currently shares her life with a menagerie of animals, and her work has appeared in publications including American Veterinarian, USA Today and Business Insider.

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