Whether you’re a first time camper or a seasoned backpacker, tackling the great outdoors is always more fun with friends – and for many outdoor enthusiasts, our dogs may be the perfect camping companions. They are energetic, fun loving, and don’t mind hanging out by the campfire after a long day of swimming and hiking. 

Just as with anything, a little knowledge and preparation can go a long way toward making camping with your dog fun instead of stressful. So keep reading for Godspeed Animal Care’s best tips for camping with your dog.

Health and Safety Checklist

Before you hit the trail, it’s important to have a few of the basics taken care of. Here are some tips. 

Research your spot. Some campsites or wilderness areas don’t allow dogs. Whatever kind of camping trip you have in mind, call ahead or research online to find dog friendly campsites and trails.  

Refresh your dog’s training. Whether you’re headed for a back-country trek or a busy campground, your dog needs a reliable recall command to keep her out of danger. She should also know the leave it command, in case you encounter wildlife. Check out the ASPCA outdoor training guide for more tips. 

Ensure your dog’s health. Before you go, schedule an appointment to make sure your dog is healthy and fit enough to travel. Parasites abound in water and soil, so a parasite preventive is necessary. And a smart vaccination program can protect your dog from infectious diseases, which may be different depending on where you travel. 

Prepare for emergencies. Research the nearest emergency veterinary hospital and program their phone numbers and address into your phone. Check that your pet’s microchip registration is up to date, or have a microchip placed. And, always carry a pet first aid kit.

Gear Up (But Pack Light)

When packing for your dog, think about his necessities as well as creature comforts. Here’s a list of basics.

  • Food and collapsable bowls
  • Drinking water (drinking from puddles and lakes is not safe)
  • Collar and tags, and a collar light for dark nights
  • Towels or a pet bed
  • Leash
  • Dog backpack for day hikes
  • Chew toys to keep him busy in camp
  • Medications 
  • Medical records and vaccine history
  • Pet waste bags

Camping With Your Dog

Once you arrive at the campsite, it’s important to be courteous to your fellow campers. Know that your dog should be your constant companion. Never leave your pet behind in camp and never leave her in the car. Bring a crate or a tie out to use while you’re in camp to keep them leashed while you need to be hands free (while cooking dinner, for example). And please – pick up after your dog, no matter where you are!

Other camping essentials to know:

Water and shade. Keeping your pet hydrated at all times and providing access to shade is critical. Watch your pet closely for signs of dehydration or heat stress. Check and refill her water bowl often. Pitch your tent in a shady spot and bring a canopy for extra shade.

Towels and blankets. Extra towels are essential for drying off after a swim, and a blanket can be nice for your dog when lounging next to your camp chair. 

Chew toys. Give your dog an activity while you’re stargazing or toasting marshmallows. Chew toys can be just the ticket, as long as they don’t attract wildlife.

Check your dog. Check your dog’s coat regularly for ticks and other parasites. Check paws for lacerations, thorns, and other problems so you can address them right away. A paw balm or dog booties may be a helpful addition to your camping kit. 

Are you a seasoned camper with more tips to share? Let us know at your pet’s next appointment or on our FaceBook page. If you have any questions about camping with your dog, please give us a call