If you’ve got a love for the outdoors and a dog by your side, you’re going to have the best camping season yet! If you haven’t brought your dog camping quite yet, then you are surely ready to hit your local outdoor store to get everyone geared up for your summer adventures! Before you break out your credit card, however, here are some of the top essentials every dog owner needs for a successful camping trip alongside your dog.
You never know what kind of emergencies you’ll come across when you’re in the mountains. Injuries are always possible, but on the chance you have a surprise encounter with wildlife, then it’s incredibly important to have an updated copy of your dog’s vaccine records. You’ll want clear proof that your dog is up to date on his rabies vaccine in case he gets in a tussle with a wild animal. It doesn’t hurt to have proof he’s up to date on his distemper vaccine as well.
Hopefully everyone comes back from your camping trip unscathed, but it never hurts to have a first aid kit on hand for your canine counterpart. The basics should include:
- bandaging materials (gauze pads, rolled gauze, adherent bandaging like Vetwrap, bandaging scissors)
- antihistamines in case of an insect sting
- antiseptic wipes
- an emergency foil blanket
- styptic powder to stop bleeding if your dog breaks a nail
- hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in emergent situations only and under the advisement of your veterinarian
It also doesn’t hurt to have a grasp on how to handle situations like lacerations, rattlesnake bites, and hyperthermia. It’s highly recommended to take a doggy first-aid class before you pack up. They’re held frequently in most major cities and help you stay prepared for every situation possible.
A spare leash/collar/harness
In unfamiliar areas, you should absolutely keep your dog on a leash at all times. This limits his exposure to wild animals (as discussed above), but it also keeps him from getting lost! Seasoned campers know how easy it is to lose or ruin essential gear, so having an extra leash or collar on hand just in case will never do you wrong.
It doesn’t hurt to have a long tie-down in your pack as well. This can be helpful when you’re backpacking and can’t carry any sort of perimeter with you. A long line allows your dog to hang out in the campsite without being able to wander off into the trees when you’re tending to your roasted marshmallows.
Depending on where you’re camping, it may not be feasible to let your dog roam the campsite on- or off-leash. Having a portable dog fence gives your dog the freedom to be outside with his people around the campfire while keeping him safely contained after dark. Also keep in mind that campfire burns are a very real and common danger to camping dogs, so dogs who don’t listen well are best kept confined.
Depending on where you’re sleeping, you may prefer having your dog snuggled up in his own space versus on your expensive sleeping bag. It’s likely your dog has never heard some of the sounds he will hear while everyone is trying to sleep in the middle of the woods. There isn’t anything more disruptive to your sleep than having your excited dog pacing your tent while you’re pooped from a day of hiking or fishing. Don’t forget you may want to hit the showers at your campsite, and your peers may not appreciate a dog peeking into their shower stall!
If you’re afforded the option of bringing all of your gear in via vehicle/camper, then an elevated bed or dog chair will save you the hassle of a dog who gets even dirtier relaxing at your campsite than they did romping down the trails. Offering a dog an elevated bed so they’re off of the ground will save your RV or tent from being completely covered in pine needles or dirt, and it also prevents things like insect bites. A comfy bed also keeps your dog from digging a hole in the dirt to curl up in when the evening gets chilly.
Despite your best planning, you can never guarantee trail conditions. The middle of summer might end up with you coming across a snowfield when you hike in higher elevations. If your dog is known to have sensitive paws, then a pair of well-fitting (fit them ahead of time) booties can prevent serious paw injuries. This is especially true in hot temperatures. While your feet are safely encased in hiking boots, your pup’s paws are exposed to the elements, and thermal burns on paws is a common injury reported every summer.
The sky is the limit when it comes to dog camping gear. A quick internet search will show you there’s an entire industry devoted to canine outdoor shopping–from the bare necesseties to making camping a luxurious getaway for everyone involved. This list includes just a few safety-related items that will ensure your dog is kept safe on all of your summertime adventuring.