Spring offers a great opportunity to spend time outdoors with your pet. From long walks to relaxing nights sitting around a campfire, there are many fun camping activities that dogs enjoy being a part of.
D’Lisa Hidalgo, a veterinary technician at Texas A&M Hospital for Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, has several tips for owners who want to bring their camping friends.
“Much like providing for your own basic needs, you should consider providing for your dog’s basic needs while on a camping trip,” she said.
This includes packing everything – from food and water to bedding and toys – that your dog might need while away from home.
“You want to make sure you bring your dog’s food in an airtight and watertight container,” Hidalgo said. “Make sure you have enough for the number of days you are going, plus a little extra, just in case. If your car breaks down on the way home and you have to stay in a hotel, it is very easy to run to the store and get food for yourself, but you want to make sure Make sure you have enough food for your pet, too.”
If your dog is on any medications on a regular basis, these should be packed up as well. Special preparations may be required for medications such as insulin which must be kept refrigerated.
Many state and national parks require dogs to be kept on a leash, and some require a length of leash. Another tool for keeping camp pets is a wired kennel with soft bedding.
“A lot of dogs feel really comfortable in these kennels because they can see, hear and smell everything that is going on around them,” Hidalgo said. “Plus, if your pet gets spooked by thunder or strange sounds in the middle of the night and tries to run away, the kennel will keep it safe.”
Hidalgo also recommends packing a dog first aid kit that contains bandages, astringent powder or cornstarch to stop bleeding, Benadryl for insect bites, eyewash, and a spare lead.
Insects are one of the least pleasant aspects of a camping trip, which can be a nuisance to pets. Ticks, in particular, can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease if the pet is not adequately protected.
“If your pet’s regular heartworm and flea prevention doesn’t include tick prevention, you may want to consider adding it,” Hidalgo said. “One of the quickest and easiest things to add is over-the-counter fleas and ticks.”
Before camping, owners should also make sure their pets are vaccinated against rabies and leptospirosis, two diseases that can be spread by wild animals.
Finally, knowing the signs of heat stroke or hypothermia, depending on the season, can help owners ensure that their pets receive treatment as quickly as possible if these conditions arise.
No matter how prepared the owner is, accidents and emergencies can still happen, so Hidalgo recommends locating in advance the animal emergency hospital closest to the campsite.
Whether camping is a one-time experience or a regular outing, a small amount of time devoted to packing and preparing will ensure that you and your pet can spend your camping trip enjoying a great time outdoors.