‘Tis the season for camping, and this year it is especially popular since it is a vacation option where social distancing can easily be followed.
Camping is always a fun, and relaxing adventure especially when you include the family pet.
To keep that feeling going throughout the trip, it’s important to do some pre-planning and a bit of homework before you leave home.
Here is helpful advice from Karen Reilly-Brickett, a certified PetTech pet first aid/CPR instructor and seasoned camper who travels regularly with her two small dogs in her 5th wheel.
Pet Supplies Needed
- Grab food and water bowls along with your pet’s food (a little more than what you think they will need for the time away) and usual treats.
- Bring leashes and harnesses. If you are bringing kitty, make sure they are used to their harness before your trip. This way, kitty can spend time with you outside the camper. Another alternative is a portable cat pen or fully enclosed outdoor cat enclosure called catios, which have become very popular in recent years. They are designed to let cats enjoy the outdoors while remaining 100-percent enclosed and safe.
- Bring an up-to-date rabies vaccination certificate since this is required for dogs by many campgrounds.
- Stock up on poop bags for dogs, and litter and box for cats.
- Pack up a first aid kit, sunscreen for light colored and short haired pets, and any medications they take. When choosing a sunscreen for your dog, choose a variety that is also marine safe.
- Bring a tick remover and small container of rubbing alcohol since that is the only way to truly kill a tick.
- Grab your pet’s beds and favorite toys. An outdoor, waterproof mat is also nice for dogs to rest on vs. dirt or rocks.
- Bring properly sized life jackets for your dog and cat as well as towels.
- Plan an area around your campsite to safely enclose your dogs and keep them safe. Use a portable dog fence, playpen or long tether since dogs must be leashed at all times. Rolls of garden fencing work well for small dogs and avoid your dogs getting a tether wrapped around a chair or other obstacle.
Do Your Homework
Research the flowers and plants that grow around the campground where you’ll be staying. Pictures and descriptions of any plants poisonous to pets will help you keep your furry companions safely away from potential harm.
Check online for any reports of blue/green algae, otherwise known as Cyanobacteria, in the lake, pond, or other waterways near your campground. The State’s EPA and/or the Town’s DPW should have that information. Also ask at the desk when you check in at the campground.
Other Safety Precautions
- Always have your pet in a life jacket whenever you are out on the water. Most dogs and cats are strong swimmers, but distractions, including other boats, choppy water, fast moving currents, and your pet’s general health and age are all factors you need to consider when playing out in the water. Don’t take chances with your pet’s life.
- When hiking, always check the weather, bring plenty of water and don’t forget your First Aid Kit.
- When hanging out around the campsite, don’t forget to provide plenty of easily accessible fresh water for your pets and shade for them to relax in.
- Never leave your pet in the camper unless it has a properly working air conditioner. The sun beats down mercilessly on camper roofs and can make it just as hot and stifling as a parked car in the summer heat. This may lead to your pet suffering from heat exhaustion at the very least and may cause deadly heat stroke even with windows open and water available.
- If you are camping with friends or relatives, make sure everyone knows NOT to feed your pets anything without checking with you first. It’s surprising how many people don’t know that certain human foods are deadly to dogs and cats.
- Check your pet for ticks every day or after every outing, even if they are on flea and tick preventitive.
- Watch pets closely if they are out with you around the campfire. Sparks & embers are potential burn incidents waiting to happen.
With some advanced pre-planning and research, you can ensure a safe and relaxing camping adventure for you and your human and furry family.