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Nothing puts a joy on my dogs’ faces more than camping! Like a little kid entering the gates of Disney World for the first time, Reuben was smelling the aroma of the real great outdoors and his eyes just lit up with a wild spark. He wanted to be a part of everything we did (he even helped us set up our tent). He definitely takes after his parents, because we absolutely love to get out and escape from the city.
I actually dream of going off-the-grid sometimes, but I also need air conditioning and clean bathrooms. Then I see a spider on the ground, and that dream is quickly dismissed. But we can pretend for a couple days, right?
As you are planning your next camping getaway to that spot near the lake this summer, make sure you are including your pups in your camping trip!
I absolutely love Hipcamp.com
! This site will find all of the great camping spots nearby you and you can filter certain features that you are looking for, like “pet-friendly” which is something you definitely want to make sure your site is before you plan to camp there. You can also see the reviews and photos posted by other HipCampers. I was so surprised to see there were 65 pet-friendly camping places near me. I totally just filled up my summer “places to visit” list!
I cannot stress this enough, even if you aren’t going anywhere, please have your dog microchipped and have an ID tag on his/her collar. Through all of our years in dog rescue, there were so many times that dogs could have been reunited with their families if their dog just had a microchip. I know your baby would never leave your side while you are camping, but there is just no telling when a rabbit is going to catch his interest and run off for a play of chase.
Some places to do require that you bring your dog’s vaccination papers with you. But bring them anyway, even if they don’t. If he were to get bit by a wild animal, you’ll need to show that rabies shot at the vet clinic to prevent quarantine.
Imagine when you returned home from a great weekend camping to find that your dog brought some of the woods back with him. An outbreak of fleas, ticks or even worse, heart worms can make your baby feel sick. So make sure he had his monthly flea, tick & heart worm medications.
Food & Water
I know this seems super obvious, but one time I packed the dog bowls and not the food and had to run to the nearest pet supply store in the town that was a bazillion miles away. If your food is usually in one of those massive food storage containers, you’ll need another container to carry with you to store the food away. I sometimes will carry 2 huge disposable food storage containers, with the same measure scoops that I use to dispense the right amount of food. Or, I really love these stainless steel bowls that fully lock together. There are 3 bowls, so if you have 2 dogs, you can put each of their food in 2 of the bowls and water in the other. This is absolutely perfect for the road trip itself. Collapsable bowls are also convenient for the pups to eat and drink out of. I like to bring the collapsable bowls on hikes for our breaks.
Your camp site most likely won’t provide these for you, unless you are at a super fancy one. Keep the park clean and pick up after your dogs. If the community dumpster isn’t within the vicinity of your campsite (which is a good thing), I usually place a separate trash bag a little farther away from our tent just for the poop bags so they don’t smell up our area. Then I’ll carry the trash bag to the main dumpster upon our exit.
First Aid Kit for Dogs
You are bringing a first aid kit for you, right? Okay, then your dogs need one, too! I don’t advise you use a human first aid kit for your dogs, but there are some items that you can use out of it like antibacterial washes, cotton balls, tweezers, etc). They have some really great first aid kits out there (I highly recommend this one
). But if you are scrambling at last minute to pack and don’t have time, here are some things to pack for a quick first aid kit, DIY-style:
Click, save and print this nifty checklist for your DIY First Aid Kit before you start packing for your camping trip
- Pet Emergency Pocket Guide – so that you know exactly what to do. And this is conveniently small enough to carry in your backpack or back pocket
- Latex Gloves
- Cotton balls & Q-tips
- PawFlex bandages (they don’t stick to the fur), gauze & scissors
- Dog wound spray (like Vetericyn)
- contact solution – to flush out wounds
- benedryl for kids for allergic reactions
- bulb syringe for flushing out eyes
- sanitizing antibacterial wipes
- paw cream – to keep dry or scratched paw pads from splitting
- rectal thermometer and some petroleum jelly
- corn starch to stop bleeding of a broken nail
- a muzzle – I know your baby doesn’t bite, but if he’s in pain while you are tending to a wound, you have no idea how he will react.
- an airtight & water proof storage container to keep all of this in
Insect Repellant for Dogs
Do not use human insect repellant on your dog. It is toxic. There are some great doggy flea & tick repellant sprays for dogs. Be careful to read the directions on the bottle and definitely avoid the face. Or if you’re an essential oil fanatic like I am, you can make your own DIY version:
Camping Dog Gear
- Backpacks – If you have a dog that enjoys having a job, then have him carry some things in his own backpack along to your campsite or on your hike. Our Aussie, Reuben, his with pride and it does give him a better workout with some extra weight. I recommend you start out light, and load evenly on both sides. I started out having Reuben’s pack loaded with doggy bag, a collapsable bag, and a couple of his toys. If your dog is smaller, you may just want to start out with the backpack empty and slowly add a couple small objects. Take small walks at first, giving a couple days or a week rest and then frequently add the backpack more and more often. You want to give your pup a chance to build up the strength to take more weight on his back and reduce muscle soreness in his legs. Then he’ll be pridefully hauling all of your stuff on your hikes, including your bottled water! Sweet! Reuben wears this one.
- Leash/Harness/Collar – Make sure your leash & collar and/or harness are durable for super outdoor ruggedness. This isn’t the time for the dainty, fancy ones to show off. Your pink collar with the cute white flowers for your precious girl is going to get super dirty. And it may not wash out very well either. Your sweet baby is going to feel like she’s going to the wilderness so she needs some tough gear to go with her.
- Booties – This really depends on the sensitivity of your dog’s paws and what the terrain will be like out there. If your baby has a history of tearing paw pads or there might be a chance of sharp rocks creating cuts, then I highly recommend you bring some booties with you (especially if you plan to do a lot of hiking). They can also help with grass allergies and itchy feet. Another thing to consider is if it’s in the middle of summer, then be mindful of their paws on hot surfaces. Don’t wait until you are out camping to put booties on your dogs feet for the first time ever. Dogs need to get used to these things. I’m sure you’ve seen many hilarious videos that went viral of dogs trying on booties for the first time. I have not personally tried any booties on my dogs, so I cannot recommend any certain pair or brand, but definitely stick with waterproof ones. During the summer, I’m usually coating their paws in Musher’s Secret, which is a protectant balm to keep them from hot and dry surfaces. That may work best for your pup, also.
- Life Jackets – Okay, I know some of you probably laughed at this one. But there are some breeds that cannot swim and just sink like rocks. My boston terrier is one of those. She can start swimming for a couple seconds and then slowly ends up under water. Even if she could swim really well, I’d probably still put a life jacket on her because she’s 12 years old. Seniors cannot swim for a long time and will tire easily. So if we are on the lake or swimming, she has her life jacket on. Now she can swim her way to the sandbar easily. Jaymie wears this one.
My dogs are just as happy with a stick, but it’s best to have a couple toys from home so that they are familiar with the smells at home. This helps with anxiety of being in a near place. I’ll bring a couple fetch toys if I find a good wide open space to throw them. One decent tug toy that they can pull between the both of them. And then I also bring a good floating fetch toy for my aussie to enjoy a good swim. I stay away from soft stuffies because they will get dirty and you don’t want to deal with the stuffing everywhere if they rip it open. But honestly, for at least the first day, they will be so into smelling every single twig and rock that they will be too entertained for toys, so don’t be surprised if your babies turn down their absolute fav toy to smell a pinecone.
Your dog will be wet. Your dog will be muddy. Your dog will have random sticky things in their fur. So load up with the old ragged towels that you keep for those moments. You will end up using all of them. All of them.
Dog Bed or Blanket and a Spot in the Camping Tent
Your poor baby will be so exhausted from all the fun he’s had. Poor thing! Make sure you bring his dog bed and place it in the tent. Just the smell of his bed will bring the comforts of home and calm down his excitement. Don’t ban him to outside of the tent because this may cause a lot of anxiety through the night. If you are worried about the dirt, just try to wipe him down as much as you can before he comes in the tent.
Collapsable Soft Crate or Pen
If you have a small dog that likes to wander off with the sniff of their nose (I’m giving my Jaymie “the look”), you’ll need to keep them close to the campsite while you are setting up the tent, getting the fire started or all of the other various chores that comes with camping. My baby gets some much needed rest in a collapsable crate. There are a lot of good ones out there, but make sure they are durable for outdoors.
For the same reason above, if it’s a big dog, you may benefit more by a durable swiveled tie down or runner between two trees. Just make sure his lead doesn’t lead him into anything that can harm him.
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