Summer and camping season has officially arrived. Why leave your dog at home if you can safely camp together? With some preparation and common sense, dogs and dog owners can enjoy the great outdoors together.
Approximately one month before the camping trip, make sure that all of your dog’s vaccinations (including any extra ones that may be needed based on exposure to new areas) are up-to-date and will remain so for the duration of your trip. If you are travelling across state or national borders, ask your veterinarian if a pet health certificate is required. This is also a good time to order pet medication refills if necessary so that you don’t run out while away from home.
When packing for the trip, be sure to include more pet food than you think you’ll need (you don’t want to run out!) and store it in an animal and weather resistant container. Avoid giving your dog food that he is not used to or untreated water while camping. Dealing with canine gastrointestinal upset is never fun, but doing so while away from home is even more difficult. Carry the name and phone number of a local veterinarian with you and include pet supplies in your first aid kit, just in case.
A form of reliable restraint is essential when camping with dogs. A chew proof tether and well-fitted collar or harness will work for most dogs, but if yours is a crafty escape artist, consider bringing along a dog crate. Even when tethered or in a crate, do not leave your dog alone at a campsite. Make sure the contact information on pet tags and microchips is up-to date.
Some campgrounds and recreation areas do not allow dogs or may have special restrictions. A prime example is the U.S. National Park System. Dogs are allowed in many campgrounds and along park roads when leashed or crated but are not welcome on most trails. If your National Park vacation includes plans for extensive back country exploration, your dog should probably not come along. In contrast, many U.S. National Forests, State Parks, and private facilities have a less-restrictive pet policy. Some even have amenities like fenced dog parks that cater specifically to four-legged campers. With some research, pet owners should be able to find an ideal location that meets the entire family’s needs.
Finally, if you are concerned about your ability to keep your dog safe and happy while camping, consider making a reservation with a reliable pet sitter or boarding facility instead.