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Tips for camping with your dog

Dogs can be the perfect camping companion: They are loyal, instinctual and don’t complain! Imagine hiking to a scenic mountain top with your furry best friend, or watching the joy on his or her face when you catch that huge trout! Get ready to snuggle up by the fire, and howl at the moon. But first, read a bit more to discover tips and important information.

Before You Set Out…

Here are a few things to consider before packing up you and your pup:

  • Check in with the vet to ensure they are healthy enough for the trip. Older dogs may be just fine for an overnight stay at a drive-up campsite, but a long hike might be too much. Some dogs might just need a little conditioning.
  • Plan the trip, and ensure that wherever you are going, dogs are allowed. Some national parks permit on leash pups, but sometimes only on certain trails. Call the office of the destination to get every detail and guideline.
  • Take a trial run. Going for it without a rehearsal of some sort isn’t the best idea. Take your pup on short day hikes and walks to get them accustom to the environment.
  • Bring something familiar. If spending the night away from home is out of the norm, ease anxiety by bringing along something familiar, like a blanket or toy.

Dog Gear And Packs

Below are a few items that will make the trip a little easier:

  • Consider illuminating devices to ensure pups can be seen in the dark
  • A sleeping bag is handy and smaller than a bed
  • Dogs can help carry their own food with a handy back pack
  • A collapsible water and food bowl saves space
  • This “happy camper” bandana is just really adorable

Dog Hazards And First Aid

Know the hazards of your area. Are there poisonous snakes or spiders? Do barbed porcupines roam the woods? Are there plants that could make dogs sick? Flooding potential? Know emergency contacts as well, should any of these things cause a serious problem along the adventure.

  • Watch weather conditions vigilantly before setting out.
  • Always carry a satellite phone for safety. Also note where the nearest emergency vet clinic is.
  • Rugged terrain can be tough on those paws. Train dogs to wear protective coverings beforehand, and bring along soothing salves.
  • Avoid crossing rivers or turbulent water. Even without pups in tow this should be avoided, as even the most experienced could meet dire challenges.
  • Not only should you carry a first aid kit for yourself, dogs need one too. A typical kit comes with bandages, wraps, splints, tweezers and medicines.
  • On leash is safer, especially if in an unknown environment with unpredictable wildlife.

Food And Water

When not exerted, dogs drink about 1/8 cup of water per pound of body weight each day. If the area does not have an available water source, enough water for you and Fido will have to be carried in. Opt for collapsible water bottles so at least the load will become increasingly lighter. Bring appropriate methods of water sanitation if there is an on-site source.

Bring plenty of food to meet your dog’s weight needs, plus some. Because if hiking or even playing, more energy will be burned. Store food in bear/wildlife safe containers to keep unwanted visitors away.

Happy trails!

Taking dogs camping is a mentally stimulating activity that can be super healthy and fun. Taking the right precautions and preparations makes all the difference in the world. Always speak in length with park experts and your vet before making the decision to set out for a night under the stars.


Karyn Wofford is a “Mom” to her fluffy, sweet dog Halli. She spends much of her time traveling and advocating for Type 1 diabetes—and Halli sometimes accompanies her on her adventures. You’ll find Karyn’s work on sites like Mother Earth Living, and in magazines such as Diabetes Forecast.

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