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Camping and Hiking with Your Dog Part I: What to Pack

It’s the perfect season for vacations, cross-country car rides, camping, and hiking with your dog. Don’t forget these important steps to ensure your dog’s–and your–safety (and sanity!)

Microchip/ID Tags

Information is key. Prior to your excursion, make sure your pet has identification tags and a collar on. These should not be removed for the duration of your trip just in case you get separated. Your dog should also have a microchip. Contact your pet’s microchip company to double-check that your contact information is up-to-date.

Be Prepared for an Emergency

In case of an emergency, locate the pet hospital nearest to your final destination and store that information in your phone or someplace else that’s easily accessible. You’ll also want to have contact information for an emergency facility that will be open at night or on weekends. With these numbers in hand, if your pet has an emergency, you don’t have to waste precious time figuring out where to go. Be sure to pack your dog’s vaccination/health records, and check state requirements for animals crossing state borders. Most states require a pet health certificate and a certificate stating that your pet is current on vaccinations.

Car Safety 

If your pet will be traveling in the car with you, keep them safely strapped in with a pet-specific seatbelt/harness or contained in a crate. Crates should be large enough for dogs to stand up and turn around. Take frequent breaks so your pet is able to go to the bathroom and stretch its legs. Never leave your dog in the car in hot or humid conditions or when the temperature is very cold.

Pack Smart

When camping or hiking, pack:

  • Light-up collar or leash for nighttime
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Jacket for rain or colder temperatures, especially at night when sleeping
  • Collapsible water bowl or doggie water bottle to use while on the trail
  • Booties for rocky areas or hiking trails
  • A life vest (if boating)
  • A tool to pull ticks (make sure to have already used a tick preventative) as well as a brush to remove burrs or thorns from fur
  • Waste pick-up bags

Plan for Anxiety

If your dog gets stressed out when traveling, bring along calming treats (such as Naturvet calming treats.) ThunderShirts can help many pets too; a ThunderShirt is a tight-fitting vest that feels like a hug, so named because they often help with storm anxiety, too. If your dog isn’t accustomed to long car rides, numerous short trips around the neighborhood prior to your trip may help. Make sure to provide a reward once you have reached the destination to break the association of the car and fearfulness in your dog’s mind. Other items you may want to have in the car include a familiar bed or blanket from home, toys such as chews or KONGS with treat fillings (to battle boredom), and collapsible dishes for water and food. If you’re taking your dog camping, familiarize your pet with a tent prior to leaving as well.

Campsite Safety

While setting up your campsite, place the bed or blanket from home inside the tent so to provide a more welcoming feeling for your pet. Use a stake with a long leash (around 6 feet or less) so your dog can get some exercise but not run off. A dog that may suffer from anxiety, is young, or may be over stimulated by campground activity should have a crate that can serve as a safe haven. Finally, make sure the campsite has shade so cool spots in which to rest can be found.

With consideration and the right products — all available at Chuck & Don’s— your dog will enjoy your vacation just as much as the rest of the family. For camping and hiking safety tips, read Camping and Hiking With Your Dog: Part II written by Rachel, the Specialty Technician Team Lead at Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota.

For more great tips, check out The Complete Safety Guide for Camping with Dogs by Redfin here!

Images Courtesy of R A Bassett Photography

Written by Chuck & Don’s.

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