Summer arrived even earlier than expected this year, with temperatures hitting triple digits by mid-June, with a promise to go up in July. There’s still plenty of pet camping season left. Even though camping with pets isn’t for me, I know lots of folks who LOVE it, including my brother and his dog. He takes the dog with them camping, boating, skiing, and pretty much everywhere.
Bringing your furry one along camping (or glamping) is a great bonding experience. But before you pack up and hit the road, look over my DOs and DONTs of camping with your dog or cat.
What to do when camping with a pet
- First, decide if your pet will enjoy camping. Not all will enjoy it. My Karma-Kat would HATE camping. He’s a homebody, and enjoys watching birds, bunnies, and squirrels through the window, but freezes when his paws hit the grass. Shadow-Pup’s more adventurous and probably would do better. If your cat or dog would rather stay home, let them.
- Choose a pet-friendly destination. Vacationing with your pet sounds like a dream. But read up or call your locations to confirm any details, and be sure they accept your furry wonder.
- Make sure you know all the rules or regulations in the area. Is your dog’s breed or size allowed? National and state parks often have restrictions to follow to keep your pet and wildlife and habitats safe! Always follow the rules for your safety, and your pet’s well being.
- Pack the right gear. When I venture out with Shadow-Pup, I always bring a roll of paper towels and pet wipes for emergency clean up. Other things you might need include pet sun screen, tick & flea treatment, and a reflective vest. For extra hot-dog care, cooling vests and kerchiefs can help. Karma-Kat now loves to venture out in his stroller, a fun accessory for small pets that prefer a safe enclosure. He’s leash trained, too, of course. Learn how to leash train cats here.
- Bring the comforts for you and your furry! Shadow-Pup absolutely loves car rides and adores wearing his halter for trips around town. I love the design, because I can attach the halter to a seat belt to keep him safe. Bring your pet’s bed, blanket, sleeping pad, crate, favorite toys and/or treats. Not exactly comforts—but any medications or calming aids (run it by your vet first) are good ideas too. If you plan to cross state lines, take along your pet’s proof of vaccinations and health certificate from your vet—some states and parks require that.
- We all need to eat. Don’t forget a portable bowl, water, and food. Take in bottled water, to avoid upset tummies, and try to prevent pets from drinking from streams or lakes (microscopic critters abound in such things!). There are also pet electrolyte products that combat dehydration with beef or chicken flavored solutions, like Petralyte. Oh, and take healthy treats (Karma and Shadow made me add that last bit.)
- Avoid attracting other animals. Wildlife visitation adds spice to the adventure, but remember that word “wild.” Left-overs and accessible pet food attracts critters like bears, raccoons, and coyotes. They pose risks to your pets from disease, or from animal attacks. Coyotes like snacking on small dogs or cats, yet another reason we keep Karma-Kat safe inside. Keep garbage contained and feed your pets in secure locations.
What not to do when camping with a pet
- Don’t leave your cat or dog unattended. Your pet is your camping partner on the trip. Leaving them couped up in the camper or cabin is no fun (and could be dangerous). Trail walks are one of my brother’s favorite activities with his dog while camping, on leash, of course. If the trail allows for it, a pet stroller offers a safe option for adventure cats if they don’t care for leash walks.
- Don’t leave their ‘business’ lying around. Pick up after your pet’s waste regularly and properly dispose of it. A colleague created a neat devise to carry those poop-filled baggies to dispose of pet waste. Check out the DooLoop here.
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!