Over 42 million people go camping during their vacations each year, according to a study done by The Outdoor Foundation. We're willing to bet that a large percentage of those hardcore campers opt to take their dogs on their Great Outdoors treks too -- and for good reason. Camping is a fabulous way to get your dogs some exercise and sunshine while you get in touch with nature.
However, dogs are a lot like children: You have to do a lot of pre-planning before your trip to ensure your pup's safety while outdoors. It may be a pain, but it'll save you a lot of worry while you're out in the middle of nowhere.
Dogs love to be outdoors, but not all breeds are built to stay outdoors for a long period of time. For example, you might want to check with your veterinarian if camping is OK for your Pekinese's health -- their respiratory systems aren't built for heavy exercise or excessive heat. Also, even hearty, outdoorsy breeds (like Labrador Retrievers) might have individual health problems that could make camping hazardous. You don't want to put your dog's life at risk while you hike, fish and relax. Better to be safe than sorry.
Dogs are awesome creatures, but not everyone wants them around while they're camping. Some campsites cater to these non-doggie types by making their grounds off-limits to dogs. It's best to call the camp management before you book the site to make sure Mitzy and Spike are welcome at the campground -- otherwise, your camping trip could be cut way short.
We don't mean you should sedate your pups! However, it is a good idea to make sure your dog is up-to-date on her vaccinations -- you never know what sort of unknown danger she could roll around in while out in the wilderness. Also, be sure to apply a dose of flea and tick prevention before you head out: An itchy dog is never fun (for either the pup or the owners) and ticks carry nasty germs like Lyme Disease.
Dogs need as much gear as a small child does for even a short weekend camping trip. Be sure you bring plenty of food and leashes for the trip, along with a first-aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic and tweezers, among other items. Also, bring a tie-out stake for attaching the leashes if the campsite doesn't allow you to tie dogs to trees.
Bring gallons of fresh water along for the journey -- river and stream water can contain nasty parasites that can make your dog sick. Don't know how much you'll need? A good rule of thumb is to come up with the maximum amount you think your dog will need for the trip and double it -- it's better to have too much of a supply than not enough.
Dogs are curious creatures and even the most well-behaved dog can take off from a campsite. What would you do if that happened? Well, you won't have to worry about it if your dog has the proper tags with your current contact information. Better yet? Make sure your dog is microchipped with your current information since ID tags can come off. Your vet can insert the microchip in just one short office visit.
What other tips do you have for camping with your pets?
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