Some of summer’s best made memories happen during family camping trips. No television, no distractions — just the great outdoors, starry skies and food cooked on an open fire.
If your family comes complete with a dog, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you keep him safe during the trip.
Keep your dog on a leash
Even dogs that normally spend time off their leash without running off should use a lead while camping. Strange noises, new smells, and wild animals may either spook or excite your dog and off into the wilderness they’ll go! Don’t risk losing your dog in the forest; just keep them on a leash or a long rope secured to something strong like a tree.
Watch out for wild animals
Skunks, raccoons, rabbits and even bears make their homes near many popular camping areas. In keeping with the first point, keep your dog on a leash and near you if you are going on walks or hikes. Don’t let them sniff in holes or sneak into bushes, or you may be left with a stinky situation! If the area you are in is prone to snakes be especially careful in areas with tall grass.
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Stay on marked trails
Don’t wander into the forest on unmarked paths. Not only could this be risky for your dog but it could pose a risk for you as well. Unmarked trails may be rocky, have prickly brush, or be home to various animals or poisonous plants. Keep your dog and their feet safe by staying on trails. You may also want to consider investing in some booties if you plan to walk in water or in more rugged areas.
Give them somewhere safe to sleep
It might be tempting to let your dog sleep in the great outdoors especially if they are used to doing that normally, but it may be dangerous to do so while camping. Nighttime brings out all sorts of nocturnal animals and creatures like spiders and snakes. Allow your dog to sleep in a tent with you or let them sleep in the cab of your car to ensure they stay safe.
Always carry water with you
Even if you are planning a short hike, always be sure to have plenty of water for your dog to drink. The added activity may be more than what they are used to, and you may even be at a higher elevation than the dog is familiar with. Ensure they don’t get dehydrated by providing water frequently. Avoid letting them drink out of streams or natural pools of water to avoid bacteria and various other things that may be in the water.
Prevent health issues
Consider taking your dog to the vet before you make the trip to ensure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations and in overall good health to travel. Ask about preventative options for bugs like mosquitoes. You could also consider asking the vet to give you advice on making a doggie first-aid kit just in case anything does go wrong. Don’t let your dog eat anything he finds including berries or other plants you think may be safe. Bug bites or exposure to certain plants may cause an allergic reaction which may require immediate attention, so know the signs to look for.
Don’t leave your dog unattended
If you are bringing your dog on your trip, plan to have them with you every step of the way. Don’t leave your dog unattended at your campsite even if they are on a leash or in a crate. Dogs also shouldn’t be left inside of the car if you decide to go on a hike or other outing without them. Even if it is shady or the weather seems decent, the inside of a car can get hotter than you may realize, and sudden storms may frighten your dog, which ultimately may lead to your car being damaged.
Be careful of overheating
Even an active dog may get overly tired or experience heat exhaustion with too much activity. If your dog isn’t used to regular activity, avoid long or rigorous walks or hikes. If you notice your dog is breathing heavily, stop and let them rest and be sure they have access to water. Dogs with thick or long coats may be especially prone to overheating, so keep this in mind during your trip. If you decide to let your dog swim in a lake or stream, be sure to watch them carefully. Rocks, debris or even currents may interfere with your dog’s ability to swim, which could pose a risk of drowning.
Keep your dog away from the fire
This may seem obvious, and you may even think your dog is smart enough to steer clear of the fire, but it isn’t always the case. Be sure your dog is several feet away from a lit fire so that they are not exposed to excess smoke or flying embers. If you are using fluid to get the fire started, make sure your dog is nowhere nearby when you actually light the fire.
Overall use common sense, and err on the side of caution to ensure that your entire family enjoys the trip!
Do you take your dog camping with you? If so, what other safety tips can you share?