Camping With Dogs

Candi Amundson, CVT
Associate Veterinary Information Specialist

Camping - CandiIt is finally here, our 1st family camping trip with our puppy!  I am a medical professional and specialize in toxicology with animals. I am overwhelmed with all the possible things that could go wrong on a camping trip with your pet, but there are many more things that will go right! I thought I would break it down and provide you with my tips on preparing for your next campout. Once you have selected where you will be camping and what activities you will be doing start a list!


There are many diseases your dog can be exposed to from all the bugs outdoors. Depending on the area there can be fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and even spiders/snakes/scorpions. Check with your Veterinarian before leaving to be sure your pet is protected. Vaccinations should be up to date as well. Your Veterinarian can help tailor a specific plan for defense depending on your needs. Bring packaging/company information for the products used just in case you may have a question or concern.


It may seem silly to bring all your dogs Vet records; and that might be a slight exaggeration, BUT there are many cases we’ve handled through Pet Poison Helpline® where it would be beneficial.  If your pet becomes lost at anytime, injured, or sick, it is very helpful to have the following information:

  • ID Tag/Microchip (Including pet’s identification numbers/company information to locate)
  • Rabies Certificate and other vaccine information
  • Registration paperwork
  • Brief health history
    • Importantly outlining any health conditions your pet has
    • Prescription medications/supplements
    • Major allergies (bee stings, corn, wheat, chicken, etc.)


Always have on hand. This link will guide you through a complete and thorough list of supplies and resources needed to create a First Aid Kit. This link will also have further recommendations if you would like to make a Pet Poison First Aid Kit. This is something that I keep stocked and updated at all times (watch the expiration date on your Hydrogen Peroxide 3%!). If there ever becomes a time where you find yourself in an emergency with your pet, stay calm and call someone. I’ve come to find that even I can become flustered in emergencies; it is scarier when it’s your own pet. Move your pet to a safe area away from further trauma, and get the emergency Vet on the phone or even call Pet Poison Helpline® at 800-213-6680. Just having someone to guide you through the situation may make a huge difference.


Try to keep these labeled and a copy of the prescription in the event you need to pick up medications in an emergency. Be sure to count your pills before you leave so you know exactly how many you have. A very typical situation is: your dog getting into your bag, finding the medications, and eating some or all of its pills. This can apply to human medications also.


It is recommended to pack at least 1-2 meals more than your dog would need. Keep the food in an airtight container or bag to prevent water damage/moisture or even to prevent your pet from indulging in a late night snack! This will also help keep bugs out of his/her food. Depending on the type of camping you will be doing, bring plenty of fresh water. This may vary depending on the type of camping: dry camping vs. full-hook up camping in a campground. Keep in mind your pet may drink more water than usual.  Oh, and don’t forget the bowls!


You may find most of the campsites/campgrounds will require using leashes and some many have “leash policies.” Bring a strong leash that is durable and grab a backup such as a retractable leash. Consider a 20-ft long lead or tether that you can tie to a stake, tree, or picnic table. A stake to put into the ground is a great option to keep them away from objects where they can become tangled. Also consider using a harness where your pet can’t pull out of its collar. I personally recommend to bring a dog carrier or crate to have as an option if your pet needs a time-out (my puppy) but mostly for traveling in the car.


  • Poop Bags: The 1 thing I forgot to pack! Luckily bags are easy to get a hold of J
  • Towel: Your dog is likely to find some mud or puddle to play in. You will be glad you did!
  • Toys/Treats: Of course I packed a deck of cards and some horseshoes; but if there aren’t many sticks at the campsite, your dog could get bored quickly.
  • Comb/Brush: You never know what types of treasures you could find in your dog’s fur. Combs are nice for removing thistles, pine needles, stickers, and even dirt/dust.
  • Baby wipes/Hand wipes: Too many uses to list, however I find the most useful if your dog has car sickness.
  • Life Jacket: If you bring your dog canoeing or fishing in a boat. I have found many brands that have handles located in different spots for easy and quick lifting if needed.
  • First Aid Kit: See above for specifics.

So buckle up and relax, after all you are on vacation and it’s time to kick back. Finally, I also make sure that I notify a neighbor or a friend of when we are planning to depart and return. No one can foresee unpredictable weather or cell phones service. If you get a chance, try and snap some pictures for the scrapbook!