Camping is a favorite pastime for many people around the globe. Escaping crowds and concrete, gathering around a fire, sleeping under stars, fishing, hiking, and simply immersing in nature are beloved experiences for many. If you’re like countless others, you wouldn’t think of going without your dog(s). To keep these adventures fun and enriching for you and your pet(s), make safety a top priority.

The 2019 North American Camping Report shows a steady increase each year in the amount of people who go camping. According to the report, 78.8 million households in the United States alone participated in camping in 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic helped increase peoples’ interest in camping, driving numbers further up. Given the large percentage of households with dogs, it’s a safe assumption that a lot of dogs go camping with their humans each year.

When camping, safety should always be in the forefront of the brain and especially when pets are along for the fun. Here are some tips for safe camping with dogs.

  1. Know Before You Go

Before heading out on your camping trip, research areas where you’re thinking of going. Make sure they’re open and available. Apprise yourself of the rules of campgrounds and lands on local and state levels. Make sure they allow dogs, and be aware of any pet-specific rules such as leash laws. Research the types of wildlife, weather, and terrain you may encounter in the area and prepare accordingly. Websites such as Go RVing and Bring Fido can help you find the perfect camping spot.

  1. Make a List and Go Prepared

Ensure you remember all important supplies by making a list and checking off items as you pack them. Supplies you should have for your dog(s) include food and water dishes, enough food, water, and treats to last the trip, leashes and harnesses, towels, current ID tags, vaccination records, emergency contacts, a first aid kit, and a comfortable blanket/bedding.

  1. Visit Your Pet’s Vet

It’s a good idea to make an appointment for a wellness exam prior to camping, especially if it’s close to or past due. Your veterinarian can assess your dog’s well-being and their fitness for outdoor adventuring. Make sure vaccinations are current. Take care of annual heartworm testing and stock up on flea and tick and heartworm preventatives.

  1. Watch What They Ingest

Keep an eye out and prevent dogs from ingesting what could be toxic plants, grasses, insects, and even sick or dead rodents or birds along trails and around camp. Be wary of bodies of water that could have poisonous blue-green algae. Clean fur of debris and towel off after swimming to prevent dogs from licking and ingesting unhealthy substances. Always provide fresh, clean water.

  1. Avoid Overexertion

When hiking or playing, keep your dog’s fitness level in mind. If your dog isn’t used to long hikes or walks, go slow, shorten your distance, and take plenty of water breaks. Keep watch for excessive panting, limping, and for heatstroke on warm days.

  1. Supervise

Dogs are curious creatures. It takes mere seconds for them to run off or get into something they shouldn’t go near. The best way to keep dogs out of trouble while camping is to watch them well and keep them close. Obey leash laws to prevent escape or unwanted animal encounters. Don’t leave dogs alone, especially at night.

Camping with dogs can be relaxing, exciting, and reinvigorating. To make it so, certain measures of safety are necessary. It all comes down to paying attention and being prepared. With these practices, everyone can have a safe and worry-free camping experience.

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