Camping with Pets 101

Camping with Pets 101

Perhaps you have always dreamed of taking a camping trip with your beloved pet. You’ve pictured your black Labrador Max gleefully splashing and dog paddling in the campground lake while you prepare your fishing gear. Maybe you are a cat person and never considered bringing your tabby cat Pepper along because she is so independent. Yes, it is true that cats are more autonomous than dogs, but with a lot of preparation, camping with felines is a possibility. Whether you bring your dog or cat along on a camping trip, there are some tips you need to follow to help ensure that your pet won’t spoil an otherwise idyllic stay.

Consider trying a mini camping trip in your own backyard to see how your pet reacts. You need to ask yourself questions about your pet’s personality and traits before even contemplating taking him or her on a camping trip. The following might be red flags that could make camping very difficult.

• Gets easily stressed or excitable
• Barks incessantly and loudly (Other campers will resent dogs that do this)
• Fights being on a leash (Cats are typically not accustomed to leashes)
• Does not like being restrained in a small area
• Medical issues that might impede camping
• Gets nervous or skittish around new people

Tips Before You Leave

Before you go camping with a pet, check to see what campgrounds allow pets and if there is an additional charge. It is important that your pet is up-to-date on all required vaccinations including rabies. You should apply flea and tick treatment in advance, but this does not provide a 100% guarantee against ticks and fleas. So ask your vet if your dog or cat should be vaccinated against Lyme disease since chances are there will be ticks where you camp. Dogs and cats also need to be protected against heartworms, which are transmitted by mosquito bites and have been reported in all 50 states.

Packing for Pets

The following list can be used as guideline with the only obvious difference being litter for cats. Preparing for camping with a pet is much the same as planning for your own needs—it just takes a little extra work.

• Adequate water in case no water supply is available at the campsite
• Enough regular food to last the entire trip
• Special kitty or dog treats
• A food dish and water bowl
• Bedding and toys to keep your pet happy
• A copy of your pet’s health records and vaccination reports
• A recent photo of your pet in case he or she wanders off
• A leash, collar (with ID tags), or harness and safety light to attach at night
• A dog or cat carrier or crate
• Bags to pick up waste—yes, even for cats who might not always use their litter box
• Medications your pet already takes and a first aid kit
• Contact info for nearby vet
• Litter and litter box (cats)
• Tick and flea spray
• Sunscreen, especially for light-furred pets

Tips at the Campground

• Keep your dog on a leash and cat on a harness so that they do not disturb other campers, run away, or get injured
• Never leave your pet alone or unsupervised
• Keep your pets away from campfires and cooking utensils because their curiosity could cause them harm
• Commands that work for dogs are not going to work for cats, so you will need to be especially vigilant with felines
• Never leave your pet confined in a closed car or tied to a stationary object
• Use a carrier, crate, or portable fencing unit to contain them
• Never allow your pets to drink out of any standing bodies of water
• Do not allow your pet to eat any potentially dangerous plants

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