Pets are part of the family or lifestyle for many people, so it’s only natural to want to take them camping. Bringing a pet along can enhance your family’s fun, but the unpredictability of animals makes it especially important to be prepared for a variety of situations.
Not all animals fare well outdoors, and sometimes it’s difficult to anticipate how they will react. Most dogs make great camping companions, whereas cats or other species can be more difficult to deal with. Before you go camping or hiking with your pet, consider the following questions:
- Are pets allowed in the park?
- How will your pet react to other campers or animals?
- What will you do if your pet is injured while camping?
Once you’ve answered these questions, there are some important basic considerations to keep in mind as you prepare for your outing. Even under the best of conditions, with your pet behaving impeccably, accidents can happen. Here are five camping preparations you should make to help you handle any unpleasant situations that may arise:
Assess your pet’s camping tolerance.
First, make sure your pet is up to the challenge of spending extended periods of time out in the woods. You know your animal better than anyone, so it is up to you to decide whether he or she would stay safe and have a good time.
Behavior and personality can also make a difference. If you have a dog that acts aggressively toward other dogs or strangers, you’ll need to keep him on a leash and limit exposure to other campers and animals. On the other hand, if your dog is overtly friendly and curious, you’ll need to monitor him closely. Most camping and hiking areas offer plenty of places in which curious pets can get lost or come across dangerous wildlife.
Get your pet’s ID tags in order.
Age and general health should also be taken into consideration. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and is in good enough health to handle the increase in activity that goes along with camping.
If your dog happens to wander out of your campsite, an ID tag with a current phone number can mean a quick and happy reunion. Plus, a UV flashing LED light on your pet’s collar can help you keep an eye on him at night and make sure he doesn’t wander off.
Pack some cold-weather gear.
Be mindful of the weather you should expect during your camping trip. In the wilderness, temperatures can drop drastically in a matter of hours, and while most animals have a natural defense against the elements, sometimes a fur coat just isn’t enough.
Bring blankets and bedding or padding to help your pet through cold nights. Also bring a towel in case it rains or your dog gets into a pond or river. Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.
Prepare for emergencies.
Don’t rely on having running water at your campsite. Bringing a gallon of water or two will ensure both you and your pet have fresh, clean water in case you need it. As far as food goes, the more the better. If some unforeseen event delays your return home, you’ll be glad you brought the extra kibble.
Always make sure your campsite is well lit so you can closely monitor your pet’s location. Having a strong LED lamp available can help you find your pet if he does happen to wander off.
Assemble a first aid kit.
Just as you’d pack a first aid kit for you and your family, you’ll want to pack an additional one for your pet. It should include bandages, swabs, disinfectant, antibiotic ointment, and other first-aid necessities, as well as any medications your pet may be on. Remember, if your animal gets hurt while camping, you should act immediately to stop any bleeding, calm him down, and safely get him to a veterinarian.
Camping with your pets is fun, but being ill-prepared for the trip can be a disaster. Keeping your pet safe, warm and dry are the top priorities. Having a good time is a close second.