Top 10 Tips for Camping with Your Dog

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by Dr. Michael Shaff

Camping with your dog can be great fun for your family and pet, but there are some important steps to keep in mind before, during and after your trip:

  1. Current Vaccines: Your dog may be exposed to other dogs or wild animals during your trip. Make sure your pet is protected from the possibility of picking up a life-threatening illness – check that all your pet's vaccines are up to date. We recommend a Lyme Disease vaccine as well.
  2. Travel Papers: If you plan to travel out of state, pick up appropriate travel documents from your veterinarian's office.  Every state has different requirements, and you can check the current papers needed for each state by visiting the links on the State Animal Health Officials page. Having appropriate travel documents in hand can prevent your pet from being impounded and quarantined far from home.
  3. Are Dogs Allowed?  Dogs are welcome at many parks and campgrounds, but in others they are prohibited or limited to specific areas due to wildlife concerns, safety issues, or insurance requirements.  GoPetFriendly.com can give you up to date information on pet friendly locations including hotels, campgrounds, parks, beaches, and off-leash areas for dogs.
  4. Microchip and Name Tag: Campgrounds and hiking trails are full of interesting new smells that are incredibly attractive to dogs. Be prepared in the event that your dog wanders off and becomes lost. The single most effective method of reuniting pets and owners is the pet microchip, which links the pet's chip number with your contact information. Collars can fall off, but any shelter or veterinarian can scan these microchips, so they are the best way to get your pet back to you.  Also, bring an extra leash in the event that yours breaks or is misplaced. You may also want to carry a photo and description with your pet's travel papers just in case. 
  5. First Aid Kit, Medications, Sunscreen: The outdoors can be a bit hazardous to dogs who are accustomed to city or suburban life. Pack a first aid kit, remember to bring any medications your pet needs, and don't forget to use sunscreen. A dog's nose and ears can be sunburned just as easily as yours can, and dogs with light skin or short hair can get badly sunburned. A comb and small scissor to remove foxtails and brambles will prove useful. 
  6. Keep Dogs In the Tent at Night: Campgrounds have food around that attracts wild animals, from chipmunks to bears to skunks. Your dog will be safer and more comfortable in the tent with you, or in a dog tent designed for him. Remember to bring bedding, food and water bowls, and plenty of food for your dog, as well as chew toys for quiet activity. 
  7. Be Courteous, Informative and Watchful: Other campers may have dogs, and there can be other types of animals such as horses or domestic farm animals in or near the campground. Let your camp neighbors know your dog is with you and supervise any introductions to other dogs and animals. If your pet is not famliar with horses, he may not react in a way you expect! 
  8. Use Dog Seat Belts: Some states now require dog seat belts, and they are a great idea. Just like a person, your unsecured dog can be severely injured if you are in an accident. And like any other object, a pet can become a missile if you have to slam on the brakes at high speed. It is also very distracting and can be dangerous to everyone in the vehicle for your pet to be climing in the driver's lap or under her feet. 
  9. Don't Leave Your Dog in the Car: Another safety issue is what to do with your dog when you stop for lunch while traveling.The interior of your car can quickly become hot or cold enough to injure or kill your pet. Your best option is to get take-out and stay with your pet, or stop at a picnic area where the dog can join you outside. A dog alone in a car is also at risk for being stolen, and a secondary risk is that someone will try to pet the dog and be bitten as your dog protects your vehicle.  Be safe – leave someone with your dog or bring your dog with you. 
  10. Prepare for Fleas, Ticks and other parasites: Treat your dog with appropriate flea and tick prevention, and other parasite prevention as needed. We can evaluate the types of pests found at your destination and prescribe the appropriate prevantatives for your camping needs. 

Everyone at Deer Run Animal Hospital wishes you a safe and fun camping trip!  We look forward to hearing all about it when you get back, or upload some pictures of you and your pets having fun to our Facebook Page


Phone: 954-421-2244   Serving Deerfield Beach, Coconut Creek, and Boca Raton from our offices at Hillsboro Blvd and  Powerline Road in the Dunkin' Donuts plaza.    © Deer Run Animal Hospital 2017