Tips for Camping With a Dog

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Summer is the perfect time to dust off your camping gear and explore the great outdoors. And if you have a furry friend, you might be thinking about taking them along. Camping can be a great experience for many dogs, with lots of new sights, sounds, smells, and adventures. However, bringing a dog on a camping trip requires some preparation and understanding of potential hazards. Read on to learn how to safely enjoy Mother Nature with your best friend.

Before You Go Camping With Your Dog

If you’re planning to take your dog on a camping trip, there are certain things you will need to do before you can pitch a tent.

Pre-Camping Check-Up

Take your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up to ensure that they are both physically and behaviorally prepared for a camping trip. Camping can be physically taxing, especially if you plan on hiking or being in hot weather, and certain dogs (like senior dogs or those with ailments) may not be up for it.

In addition, you should consider your dog’s behavior. Will they be barking excessively while you and other campers are trying to sleep? Do they become aggressive or fearful in new situations? If you aren’t sure if your dog will have a good time while camping, it may be better to leave them behind.

RELATED STORY: The Annual Vet Visit Cost: What to Expect

Vaccinations and Parasite Protection

Make sure that your dog is up to date on all of their vaccinations. Tell your veterinarian where you and your dog will be going so that they can recommend any additional vaccines that may be useful. For example, if you’ll be camping in the desert, your vet may recommend the rattlesnake vaccine.

Your dog should also be protected from fleas and ticks, as these pests can be found in abundance in certain camp areas and may carry life-threatening diseases.

ID Tag and Microchip

Your dog should wear a collar with an ID tag at all times, and if your dog has a microchip, check to make sure that their contact info is up to date before you leave for your trip. Also bring a recent photo of your dog that you can show to other campers or a park ranger if your pal wanders off.

Prepare a Pet First-Aid Kit

Having a pet first-aid kit on hand can help you treat superficial wounds while you’re off the grid. You may also want to consider taking a pet first-aid class such as the one offered by the American Red Cross.

Pack Your Pet’s Supplies

What will your dog need while camping? Everything they need at home, plus some. This includes a leash, food, fresh water (never let your dog drink from lakes, rivers, or ponds), bowls, poop bags, a bed or blanket, a brush or comb (so you can check for ticks), any medications they might need, and if you’ll be in the sun, pet sunscreen and a place for your dog to find shade (such as a large umbrella or a covered crate).

RELATED STORY: Made in the USA Pet Supplies Showcase

Locate the Nearest Veterinarian

Before leaving civilization, locate the nearest vet to your campground and write down their address and telephone number. In case of an emergency, you’ll know where to go right away.

While Camping With Your Dog

Your dog passed their physical with flying colors, they have their vaccinations and flea and tick protection, their ID tag and microchip are up to date, and their supplies are packed. You’re ready to start your adventure! So how can you keep your dog safe once you reach the campsite?

Never Leave Your Dog Alone, and Use a Leash When Necessary

Leaving your dog alone in nature puts them at risk for injury or getting lost. Keep an eye on your dog at all times, and if you’re near other campers or in an area with less-than-friendly wildlife, keep them on a leash.

Check For Ticks

Ticks abound in forest areas and tall grass. Check your dog at least once a day. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers or a tick removal device. Never attempt to “drown” the tick with dish soap or burn it with a match; these homespun methods can actually increase the likelihood of infection.

RELATED STORY: Types of Ticks in the US

Offer Exercise Breaks

Camping often involves hiking or long walks. Give your dog plenty of breaks to avoid straining their muscles and joints, and if the weather is hot, take steps to prevent heat stroke. Find shady areas to rest and keep fresh water on you at all times. If your dog is showing signs of exhaustion, let them sit out activities for the remainder of the day.

Try Dog Boots

Consider outfitting your dog with a pair of dog boots. Dog boots protect your dog’s paws from cuts, scrapes, and foreign objects between the toes. They also keep feet warmer in cold weather and cool when the weather heats up. Most dogs aren’t too fond of dog boots the first time they wear them, so practice with your pal before you go camping.

Do you take your dog camping? Leave us a comment and let us know how you keep your pup safe. Another way to protect your pet? Sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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7 Easy Ways To Prepare Your Pet For Spring

It’s officially spring, and soon we’ll see higher temperatures and plenty of chances to take our pets outside for some fun in the sun. As nice as that sounds, warm weather and outdoor activities also present certain dangers to our pets, like increased risk of heartworm disease and seasonal allergies. The good news is that we can protect our pals. Read on to learn how.

1. Get Your Pet On A Heartworm Preventative

Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms that are transmitted via mosquito bites. If you’re thinking: “I don’t see many mosquitos where I live, so I don’t need to worry,” think again. The American Heartworm Society suggests that all pets — regardless of where they live — should be protected. Get your pet on a heartworm preventative, such as a tablet or topical treatment, before letting them loose in the yard.

RELATED STORY: How Do Dogs and Cats Get Heartworm Disease?

2. Prepare Your Pet From Fleas and Ticks

Mosquitos aren’t the only pests you need to watch out for in the spring; fleas and ticks also come back in full force. While fleas and ticks can be picked up any time of year, your pet is more likely to come into contact with them if they are out romping in the grass, hiking with you, or playing at the dog park. Fleas and ticks not only irritate your pet, they can also carry disease and cause serious health problems. Protect your pet with an oral or topical treatment and/or collar.

3. Stay Cool

When temperatures climb, so too does the risk of your pet overheating. On warmer days, you may want to walk your pet in the morning or evening to avoid high midday temperatures, and if you have the option, choose a grass or dirt path over hot asphalt; your pet’s paws will thank you. Be sure to bring water for your pal on long walks or hikes, and look out for signs of heatstroke, like excessive panting, staggering, and high body temperature. Heatstroke can be deadly, so take your pet to the veterinarian right away if you see symptoms.

4. Prepare your Pet For Seasonal Allergies

Pets can suffer from seasonal allergies in much the same way that people do, having particular sensitives to grass, pollens, flowers, or plants. If you notice your pet itching, scratching, or sneezing after playing outside, they might be having an allergic reaction. Contact your veterinarian; after testing your pet they may prescribe an antihistamine and/or suggest more frequent baths.

RELATED STORY: Know Your Options: Allergy Meds For Dogs

5. Beware of Poisons

Certain foods, plants, and rodenticides/insecticides are poisonous to pets, and you should be aware so that you can keep your pet safe when BBQing or hanging out in the yard. The most poisonous foods for pets are garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, apricots, caffeine, chocolate, gum, alcohol, and salt. There are many toxic plants, so check this list and then check your yard.

6. Steer Clear of Foxtails

Foxtails are grass-like weeds that show up between May and December in most of the US, but especially in the West. If your pet comes into contact with a foxtail, it can become easily embedded in their feet, ears, eyes, nose, or skin due to its sharp point and tiny barbs. Foxtails are not only uncomfortable for your pet and tricky to remove, they can also cause swelling, pain, abscesses, and even death if they are absorbed into your pet’s body and make their way to the lungs, brain, or spine. Protect your pet by learning the species of foxtail native to your region and avoiding overgrown areas. You should also brush your pet out and inspect them for foxtails every time they come in from outside.

7. Time To Microchip

More time spent outside means more chances for your pet to sneak off or get lost. You should always keep an eye on your friend, but if they do happen to escape your sight, a microchip is a great way to get them back. A microchip is a small device about the size of a grain of rice that contains a unique ID number. After the microchip is injected into your pet, you will register online using the ID number, and if the pet is ever returned to a shelter or vet’s office, a quick scan will reveal their information. Used in combination, a collar ID tag and microchip offer the best chance for getting your pet home safely. If you plan to purchase any medications for your pet this spring — including heartworm preventatives, flea and tick treatments, or allergy medications — consider signing up for PetPlus. You could save up to 75%, and ordering is a breeze. 

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