Camping Safety 101: Tips for a Great Trip with Your Pets

August 11, 2021

a dog licking a woman on the nose in a park

The warm weather brings out the nature lover in many of us, including our pets! For many, this means enjoying time outside. Camping can be a great way to spend time bonding with your pet in the great outdoors, but like most activities, it doesn’t come without its challenges. To make sure everyone stays safe and has a great time, read our 10 expert tips from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). 

First and foremost, plan ahead!

There are a few good things to always bring along on a camping trip:

  1. Photos and Medical Records. A recent photo and basic medical records for your pet, including the date of their last vaccines and any medications they may be on, is a good idea to have on hand. If your pet gets lost or needs to be seen by a veterinarian, having some basic information can be critical. Additionally, locating the closet emergency clinic from your campsite and adding their contact information to your phone can be lifesaving. 
  2. Identification. A reflective pet collar with an ID tag is a simple and great way to make sure your pet can be identified if they accidently get away from you. Microchips are also a good idea as shelters and veterinary clinics routinely check for them and they cannot accidently fall or come off your pet. For owners who are a little more tech savvy, GPS trackers will help you track your pet down if they do get lost.
  3. First Aid Kit. A pet first aid kit can come in handy in case of any bug bites, minor injuries or if your pet gets sprayed by a skunk. 
  4. The Essentials. Make sure to bring along enough fresh water, food and any medications your pet takes on a regular basis. Do not encourage your pet drinking from foreign bodies of water as toxins like blue-green algae can be seen in the summer months. Also, if you are traveling far from home, check to see if heartworm control is recommended if your pet is not currently on it. 
  5. Flea and Tick Control. Fleas and ticks are no fun and can transmit diseases to your pets. Make sure to have your pet protected before heading out and know the signs and symptoms of a flea or tick bite. Always check your pet thoroughly for ticks after spending time outdoors. 
  6. Weather. Is it going to rain? Will it be very hot? Consider how your pet will handle the weather if they are not used to spending extended time outdoors. Also, don’t forget that thunder and lightning can be very scary for some pets and they may be more apt to run away. Come prepared to weather the storm with a rain jacket for your pup or an umbrella to share between the both of you. If it’s going to be hot, identify a shady location where you can take regular breaks with adequate amounts water.
  7. New Environment. Consider how your pet will do in a strange environment. While campers will generally expect some barking at the campsite, excessive barking can be frustrating to others. Does your pet scare easily? How does your pet handle meeting lots of new people or being around other dogs they’re not typically around? Remember, this is your pet’s vacation, too. If they don’t enjoy the company of others, make sure they have a safe place to hang out while you socialize. Providing your pet with their favorite toy, chew and a blanket or bed from home can keep them entertained and feeling safe. 
  8. Pet Proof! Before you let your pet out on your campsite, thoroughly inspect the area to make sure other campers have not left anything behind. Being familiar with any common toxic plants can also help you identify areas to keep your pet away from. Also be sure to always clean up after your pet when you’re exploring new areas!
  9. Don’t let your pet roam. Because your pet is not familiar with the area, they could get lost, fall into a river or become stuck. Other well-meaning campers may feed them something they’re not used to or may have rat poison out in their campsite. They could also have a run in with some not-so-well-meaning wildlife, so it’s important to always keep an eye on your four-legged friend.
  10. Have Fun! Camping can be a great bonding experience with your pet, so make sure you enjoy your time together!