Whether you’re camping for the first time or you’re a long-standing pro, there’s no doubt that bringing along your pet (or two!) can add to your camping experience.
It’s easy to imagine long hikes through the woods with your Golden Retriever, or throwing the ball into the water for your Labrador. Or maybe you plan to pack your little teacup pup into a bag and carry her around the campground. Anything goes!
But before you pack up your tent, sleeping bag, and Fido, keep in mind several pet-friendly camping tips to ensure a safe and fun trip for everyone: humans and pets!
1. Bring a First Aid Kit
Let’s face it: the Great Outdoors is beautiful, but it’s also home to a variety of unpleasant creatures. Pets tend to sniff out new areas, and this puts them at risk for snakebites, bug bites, or even encounters with other animals like skunks or opossums.
Bring a first aid kit with alcohol, bandages, hydrogen peroxide, and other essentials so you’re ready for small mishaps with Fido. This is a good tip for humans, too!
2. Know the Location of the Nearest Emergency Vet
In case your pet ingests something poisonous or has a big mishap, like an attack by a wild animal, know the nearest 24/7 emergency vet. Have their phone number handy, and easy-to-read driving directions.
You should also have the information of your regular vet on-hand, in case the emergency vet needs to contact them for vaccination records or other medical history specifics.
3. All Vaccines Should Be Updated
Before your camping trip, ensure your pet is up-to-date on all required vaccines. This is especially true for rabies (which can be acquired after animal bites) and leptospirosis, which is a bacteria present in standing water and soil.
Don’t forget flea & tick protection, too. There are plenty of flea and tick prevention collars and sprays. Just be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
Also, check your pets for ticks each evening and after returning home from your trip. If you find a tick and the area looks swollen, consider a quick call to the vet.
4. Ensure Your Pet Wears a Collar 24/7
This tip isn’t just for pet-friendly camping! This is important at home, too.
If your pet gets lost, a collar with tags can help him or her get home safely. Ensure tags have your current contact information and rabies vaccine information.
Another good idea? Consider getting a chip implanted in your pet before your camping trip. This is an inexpensive and easy alternative to traditional pet tags.
5. Reflective & Noise-Making Collars
One thing we love about the great outdoors? The lack of big city lights. But this can pose a problem if your pet wanders off, especially if you’re far from home in a place like Kruger National Park.
For pet-friendly camping, we recommend securing two things to your pet’s collar, especially after dark: a flashing light, and a small bell. Both are cheap and easy to secure.
6. Check the Campsite for Hidden Dangers
As soon as you park (and before unloading any gear,) take a good look around the campsite.
Are there leftover food remnants, like chicken bones, which may choke or harm your pet? Are there chocolate or candy wrappers, or grapes/raisins? Also ensure that no harmful chemicals have been left out by previous campers, like gasoline or antifreeze.
7. A Kennel is a Must for Pet-Friendly Camping!
When camping, you must have some way to corral/pen your animal for short time frames, and possibly for sleeping at night. The kennel must fit inside your tent, too. It’s never safe to leave a pet outside of the tent at night.
Consider bringing a blanket from home to put inside the kennel. If your pet is under stress due to the trip, this can help him or her remain calm. A pet-friendly sleeping bag is another great option!
8. Your Pet Should Remain on a Strong, Short Leash
When taking walks or hikes during your trip, keep your pet on a short leash (and don’t use a retractable leash, which can be dangerous in some situations.)
And remember, this trip is meant to be fun for all of you. Dedicate some time to letting your pet off-leash in a safe area for a game of fetch or a romp in the water.
Be honest with yourself, too: if you don’t think your pet will enjoy being restrained, or the planning process is stressing you out, perhaps this isn’t the right time to bring your pet along.
9. Ensure Your Pet Stays Hydrated & Well-Fed
Most of us go camping in warmer months, which means we bring plenty of water or other beverages to remain hydrated. But don’t forget about your pup!
It’s easy to fill a water bowl once and then forget about it for a few days. Check your pet’s bowl twice-daily to ensure it’s full of fresh, clean water. Offer your pet water during and after hiking or play sessions, too.
Also, bring extra food in case any of it spills, or if another animal somehow sneaks into the bag. And to reduce stress, keep your pet on their normal eating schedule if at all possible.
10. Clean Up After Your Pet
We should always leave campsites better than we found them. This means that if your pet leaves any waste at the campsite, you should put it in a baggie and throw it into the designated trash area.
Likewise, if you left any food scraps (bones, etc.) ensure they are picked up for the next pet owner who comes to visit. Their pup will thank you for it!
Camping with pets doesn’t need to be stressful. In fact, it can be a very rewarding bonding experience for both the pet and owner. By following these pet-friendly camping tips, you can ensure a safe and fun outdoor adventure for you, your family, and your beloved pet.
We have plenty of other camping tips for you and your family. Check out our other tips today, and get ready to pack up that tent!