Are you looking for an affordable alternative for summer vacation? Do you yearn to explore the Great Outdoors? Are you tired of leaving your dog behind when you leave town? If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then this episode of Pet Talk was made just for you! In this special summertime message, our intrepid, happy-go-lucky staff veterinarian Dr. Sarah applies her ready-for-anything attitude to a great American pastime with a twist … canine camping. Aided by Alma, her fun-loving, Goldendoodle co-star, our pet expert is on location in the Colorado woodlands, sharing her insights and practical tips to help prepare you for your next nature-land adventure.
As an added bonus to our readers, we’re including a full explanation of what you’ll need to pack to mount your next expedition into the wilds. And be sure to download the handy checklist version to take the last-minute guesswork out of what you’ll need to pack.
From here on out, camping won’t be complete without your canine companion. So, shake the moths out of your tent, dust off your backpack and buy a pack of strike-anywhere matches. Don’t forget to share your camping stories with other Life’s Abundance customers in the comments section below!
Packing List for Camping with your Canine Companion
Identification tags: If your pup is out of the house, she should wear her ID tags (license, vaccination & home address) labeled with your name, city, state and phone number. For your camping trip, consider purchasing an inexpensive, temporary tag for her to wear along with the standard tags. Some stores have engraving kiosks - simply enter the relevant info (such as your dog’s name, the name of the park where you’ll be camping and your assigned campsite number). If your park of choice doesn’t assign numbers ahead of time, or if you’re camping on a wilderness trail, include the phone number of the nearest ranger station. If there’s space enough, include pertinent information about medical conditions (such as ‘Diabetic’) or behavioral issues (like, ‘Cat Aggressive’).
Leash: In addition to your standard leash and collar (make sure they’re in good condition while you’re at it), consider bringing back-ups. It’s a good idea to have one short lead, especially if your destination is heavily wooded - you don’t want Max’s retractable lead wound around a couple of trees when he’s in an excited state.
Tether or Crate: You need to have a way to safely restrain your dog while you are setting up camp, cooking, etc. - just ask anyone who’s ever tried to pitch a tent while holding a leash - not pretty. If your dog routinely sleeps in a crate, and you’re driving to your campsite, bring it along. Obviously, it’s not something you want to carry on your back if you’re hiking to your site. However, a crate is a safe place she can return to while you’re busy prepping or cleaning up your camp site.
Bedding: Bring an all-weather tarp to place under the bedding to shield you and your pup from the ground, especially for camping in cold weather. Laying on the ground risks exposure, as body heat is quickly absorbed into the earth, and we don’t want you or your dog experiencing hypothermia.
Cold Protection: To further protect your pup, especially if she has a short or thin coat, pack a doggie sweater for her to wear. Again, there’s no reason to risk hypothermia.
Booties: Depending on the terrain, presence of ice on the ground, prevalence of fire ants or if your dog has weak footpads (i.e., predisposed to tearing, not uncommon in older dogs), booties are a good solution for paw protection. Don’t forget to do some trial runs with the booties before you leave … wearing shoes for the first time takes some getting used to.
Food and Water: Don’t wing it when it comes to having enough food and water. Do not simply trust the safety of streams, rivers and lakes as a source of hydration, for you or your dog. It’s rare these days to locate natural water that isn’t tainted by giardia, toxic chemicals or other harmful bacteria. If you insist on using water from a natural source, bring giardia tablets (follow the label instructions) and a tiny bottle of bleach (you only need a couple of drops per gallon) to purify the water. When it comes to food, pack two extra days of dog food beyond your planned stay. Preserve the food in a sturdy water-proof container. If your campsite features a “bear box” (a storage container high off the ground, often on a pole), please use it - it’s there for a reason. If you don’t have travel bowls, pack your pup’s regular ones – even these can evoke a measure of comfort in an unfamiliar environment.
Toys: Even though the Great Outdoors may captivate your attention, boredom’s a distinct possibility after your dog has marked his or her territory and sniffed around the camp site a couple of times. If your dog is fearful under the stars, a favorite toy from home might provide a measure of comfort.
First Aid Kit Items: Chances are, you already plan to take some first-aid items … by adding a couple of more products, you’ll be well prepared to handle many canine emergencies, too.
Take the following items and keep them safely stored in clear storage bags … that way, you won’t waste precious time in an emergency situation digging through your backpack.
Bandages: Vetwrap (self-stick gauze), butterfly bandages (used to close open wounds), waterproof surgical tape, duct tape, 4” X 4” gauze pads and non-stick sterile pads
Styptic Powder, to stop bleeding (Kwik Stop is a good brand)
Hemostats or needle-nose pliers
Small razor (to shave hair from injured area)
Irrigation syringe (to flush eyes and wounds)
Ear and eye ointment (ask your vet or vet tech for which brands for common conditions)
Triple antibiotic ointment with lidocaine (that last part will help with stinging, painful wounds - check with your vet)
Medication for insect stings in both a topical spray and oral capsules (again, talk with your vet about brand choice and dosages)
Hydrogen peroxide (to disinfect the wound)
Muzzle (if your dog is in pain, you need to take steps to prevent him from biting you or others while addressing the emergency)
If you are planning a camping trip in a remote location, it would be wise to consider enrolling in a back-country EMT course, which should be available through your local community college.
It sounds like a lot of work, but if you’re adequately prepared, you’re more likely to have a blast. Enjoy your trip!
(Please note: Always consult your veterinarian on your first aid kit regarding items, brand choices, dosages and guidance on their uses.)