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
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
Styptic Powder, to stop bleeding (Kwik Stop is a
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
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.)