dog and man road trip heartThe dog days of summer can inspire us to escape to the great outdoors for some fresh air and fun. If you’re a nature-loving pet parent, camping with a pet might seem like the ultimate way to relax on a weekend.

In preparing for such an excursion, you probably have a number of ‘must-haves’, like bug spray, sunscreen, and marshmallows on your packing list. Similarly, there are many precautions to take to keep your best fur pal safe while on the lake, in the woods, or wherever your sense of adventure leads you.

Pre-Camping Pet Checklist

From Hoosier National Forest and State Parks to the many beautiful, inviting lakes, Indiana has some amazing campsites to offer a family and their Fido.

But, there are many factors to keep in mind – from dealing with ticks and the diseases they carry to finding places that allow four-legged camping friends. So, before you hit the trails, make sure your pet is current on vaccinations and parasite preventives (ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes can carry serious illnesses, including Lyme disease and heartworm disease)

As for your pet’s camping essentials, add these items to your checklist:

  • Leash and collar with ID tags
  • Tie-out
  • Food and treats
  • Lots of clean drinking water (both for travel and while at your campsite)
  • Bowls
  • Bed
  • A brush for getting burrs or other debris off of fur
  • Crate
  • Toys, Frisbee, etc.
  • Waste bags
  • Pet First Aid Kit

When in new and unfamiliar areas, pets can easily go missing. If your pet is not microchipped, we strongly recommend doing this as it is the most effective means of being reunited with a missing pet.

Another important element of pet-friendly camping relies on training and socialization. Is your dog ready for camping? Has training been provided and does he respond to your commands? Is he a chronic barker or suffer from anxiety or aggression issues?

These factors should be considered to keep your pet, other pets, and other people safe, as well as where you might choose to camp (i.e. crowded campgrounds may not be the best place for a bark-happy Buddy). It may be a good idea, for example, to enroll your canine companion in training classes if you are uncertain how he might respond if loose, around strangers, or in a new place. For recommendations, give us a call.

Making Camping with a Pet Safe and Fun

Now that precautions have been made and you’re all packed up, what are some ways to ensure a good, safe time for Fido?

  • First, know the pet rules of the campground or area. Many places will require a tie-out while at camp and a leash everywhere else (sometimes even on developed trails). So check with the host or the management.
  • Practice good dog owner etiquette by cleaning up after your pet and preventing any off-leash escapes or chronic barking.
  • When on the trail, there is a potential for wildlife encounters. Keep your pet close to you and within eyesight at all times. If your pet is ever bitten by or scratched by a wild animal, have him examined (even if he seems OK, since wildlife carry many serious diseases).
  • Inspect your pet every evening for ticks, paying close attention to the base of the tail, under the legs, in or around ears, and other hard to see places. (Don’t know how to safely remove a tick? Ask the Dupont Veterinary Clinic team!)
  • Keep your pet in your tent at night or in a crate next to the tent, or else in the car (if temperature allows) to prevent an accident or escape.

Although there are precautions to take, camping can be an incredible time for pet and pet owner when the necessary pet safety measures have been taken.

So, get out there and enjoy!