Friday, May 8, 2015

Camping with Your Dog

Our facility is located near several camping sites that bring in many people from out of town.  In the summer months I receive many inquiries for boarding from people who are having issues camping with their dog.  So, as camping season quickly approaches here in Michigan, the following are some tips for camping with your dog.

Canoeing with dogs.

Preparing for your trip

First and foremost ensure that the camping location you are planing to stay at allows dogs and familiarize yourself with their policies on dogs.  You will also want to ensure your dogs health for the trip by confirming they are up to date on vaccines (including a bordetella vaccine) and routine health checks.  They should also be on flea/tick/heartworm prevention.  Also, make sure they are micro-chipped and/or have the appropriate collar with ID tags.  These tags should have a cell phone number on them so you can be contacted ASAP in regards to your dog.

What to pack

Bring enough water for your dog to drink, unless there is a water supply available at the campsite that you plan to use.  DO NOT allow your dog to drink out of standing bodies of water while camping.  Your dog should continue to eat his regular diet during the trip; pack enough food and treats to last for your entire stay.  Pack a food dish and water bowl.  Bring appropriate bedding such as a blanket or a cot-style bed.  I would not suggest large pillow/couch like beds for sanitary reasons.  Also bring some toys to keep your dog occupied. 

Make sure to pack a copy of your dog’s health records and vaccination reports.  This is especially important if you are crossing state lines.  These vet records can also come in handy if for any reason they need to be boarded while you are camping.  Other essential items include a leash or long line and collar or harness, if required a carrier or other means to confine your dog, bags to pick up your dog’s waste, a first aid kit, a brush or comb and any medications your dog takes regularly.

Camping Activities

Once at the camping ground, follow campground policies which frequently include keeping your dog on leash.  Depending on campground policy you can get a longer line as well for this purpose or have your dog properly off leash trained.  This will keep peace with your camping neighbors and your dog will not be at minimal risk for becoming lost or injured.  Keep a close eye on your dog and keep them near you at all time.  Be aware of keeping your dog away from things such as campfires and cooking utensils that can cause injury.  A “leave it” command is also useful in case your dog begins to explore or picks up something that he should not have.
While camping, check your dog’s fur and skin regularly for ticks as well as for plant material like thorns or burrs.  Plant materials should be brushed free of your dog’s hair, if possible. In some situations, cutting or shaving the hair may be necessary to remove these items.  Remove ticks promptly by grasping the tick near the skin and pulling gently and slowly away from the skin. Wear gloves when doing so. Do not handle ticks with bare hands as they can transmit diseases to you as well as to your dog.

Most campground activities you can probably do with your dog as well.  You can take walks on nature trails or go biking.  If your dog is well behaved and you are a good swimmer take him for a canoe ride.  The picture at the beginning of this article is of the last time I went camping.  We had a pleasant afternoon on the lake and we stayed dry the whole time.

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