Going Camping with Your Dog

Camping with your dog fun with some precautions.

More people are camping now than almost ever before, and that includes people with dogs. If you'd like to embark on new camping experiences and bring your canine companion with you, there are some things to keep in mind before you head out.

Make Sure Your Dog Is Protected

When you are camping, your dog will come into contact with other dogs as well as be in areas where lots of other dogs have previously been. Not only that, but he'll probably have more exposure to mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas than he would in your home. So it's crucial that, before you start taking your dog camping, you make sure that you have him as well protected as possible from parasites, pests, viruses, and bacteria that might threaten his health.

First, visit your veterinarian and tell him or her your camping plans. The doctor will help you make a healthcare plan for your dog that will maximize the protection for him. It might include vaccinations, heartworm and flea and tick preventative, and a schedule for checking fecal samples for internal parasites routinely.

Remember, if you are visiting areas that are not very close to your home, there may be additional risks to your dog than just present in your area. It doesn't hurt to contact a veterinarian in your destination area and ask what they recommend as far as vaccinations and parasite prevention.

Have Proper Identification on Your Dog at All Times

It's crucial that you have proper identification on your dog at all times while you are camping. That can include having your veterinarian microchip him, always having a collar with identification tags on him, and making sure that your contact information is current with both the microchip company and on the physical ID tag. When you are not close to home, your dog could get nervous or excited and run away. Having as much identification on him as possible can help him get home to you if the worst should happen.

Keep Your Dog Confined

Always keep your dog on a leash or confined in your RV or tent. If you are going to leave your dog at the campsite and head out exploring without him, consider keeping him in a dog crate instead of loose inside the camper or tent. Dogs can become upset when left in unfamiliar surroundings, and they might destroy items in the RV or tent while you're gone or even tear through doors or canvas and get loose.

When you are at the campsite, keep your dog on a leash rather than allowing him to run around the area. Remember—people and other dogs are likely to be walking past the site all the time, and you never know when either one might come into your campsite to interact with your dog or your dog might decide to leave the campsite to interact with one of them. It's safest always to have your dog on a leash to minimize the chances of him escaping or being hurt by another dog.

Get Your Dog Used to the New Situation

Before you go camping, it can help to get your dog used to the different situation in which he'll be sleeping. For instance, if you are going to be traveling in a camper, try spending a few nights in it with your dog before the actual trip. Likewise, you can set your tent up in the backyard and sleep in it with your dog before going on the real journey. Anything you can think of to help him get used to the conditions you'll be in while camping will help ease the actual trip itself.

Remember Fire Safety

Most of the time, camping involves fires. You will need to always keep in mind that pets and fire don't mix. Keep your dog securely away from the fire pit at all times. Remember, your dog's tail can easily wag into the fire and ignite when he's turned around visiting you.

Be Diligent About People Food

Many traditional camping foods are dangerous for dogs. Hot dogs, ribs, sausages, chocolate, and marshmallows can all cause pancreatitis or upset gastrointestinal tracts in dogs. Make sure everybody you're camping with knows not to give your dog people food.

Be Prepared to Clean up After Your Dog

Although it might be tempting to let your dog run through the campground or in the woods nearby and do his business without you cleaning up behind him, don't succumb to that temptation. Many people use the campgrounds and nearby land, and leaving your dog's poop lying around is not only detrimental to others' experiences, but it can also spread parasites and disease among the visiting canine population. Get some biodegradable poop bags and carry them with you everywhere while camping with your dog.

Bring Plenty of Everything You Need for Your Dog

Think about how much food, treats, and medication your dog will need for the amount of time you'll be gone, and bring that plus a couple of extra days' worth. You don't want to run out of anything while you're away and have to try and hunt it down. Changing foods quickly can really upset your dog's gastrointestinal system, so you don't want to find yourself not having enough.

Mind the Weather

Especially if you're going to be in a tent, keep an eye on the weather conditions. If your dog is small or short-haired, he might need blankets or a jacket to keep him warm. If he's out in the rain, he'll need to be dried well to keep him from getting a chill.

Also, remember that even long-haired dogs can get cold if they usually stay inside most of the time or live in a warmer climate than the one you're visiting.

Be Sure Your Dog Is Welcome at Your Destination

Dogs aren't in allowed in some campgrounds, so make sure you ask before you show up. Additionally, there can be spots within or around campgrounds, like beaches, where dogs are not allowed. Always check before you go somewhere to make sure dogs are welcome in that space and, again, always have your poop bags ready to clean up after your best friend.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Fecal Testing for Dogs

Beach Safety for Dogs

Dog Worms: Canine Intestinal Parasites

4 Tips to Avoid Getting Intestinal Parasites from Your Dog

Foods Toxic to Dogs - Slideshow

Quiz - Do You Know Which Human Foods Are Toxic to Dogs?

Fire Safety for Dogs

Microchipping Dogs


Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at DogHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.