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Camping with Pets

Camping with your pet brings the whole family together to enjoy the experience instead of leaving the four-footed member of the family behind to worry about.

It's no fun to be cooped up in a kennel for a weekend or longer when the rest of the family is out having a good time. If your pet is physically able, well behaved and eager to go, wouldn't it be nice to take him along for the trip?

Just as you would pack what items to bring along for you, don't overlook what your pet may need to keep him comfortable too. Being prepared with the right essentials and equipment is the key to ensure a happy time on the road and in the woods. Keep in mind also of when and where you plan to camp. The time of year and geographical location of your campsite can make a big difference in how and what you prepare for your camping trip. Know what the weather conditions are likely to be and pack accordingly.

Consider these pet travel tips to make your camping experience with your pet more enjoyable:

  • Check out the campgrounds, parks or wherever you plan to visit well in advance to make sure they accept pet campers.
  • Find out what types of facilities they have on site, such as dog runs, off-leash areas, drinking water, etc.
  • Do they allow off-leash pets on nearby hiking trails?
  • Is there a size restriction or a limit in the number of pets you can bring along?

Don't forget about your pet's safety in getting him to your destination either.

  • Invest in a vehicle pet harness or car seat (for smaller pets) to protect him (and you) in case you have to make a sudden stop or become involved in an accident. Unrestrained pets become deadly projectiles to other passengers. For example, did you know that an unsecured, 25-pound dog in a 40 mph crash becomes a 1,000-pound mass (half a ton) flying uncontrollably inside the vehicle?
  • Never attach a restraining device to the pet's collar inside a vehicle that could choke him or break his neck in a collision. A harness will help to prevent injury.

As you plan your trip, here are some items for your pet that may help make his (and your) camping experience more enjoyable:

  • Pet tent and bedding. Who doesn't like his own digs? A small, easily assembled pet tent gives everyone a better night's sleep. A pet travel bed or cot keeps your pet off the ground and away from crawling bugs.
  • Pet first-aid kit. An essential item to pack and should contain such things as antiseptic cream, assorted bandages, tweezers, eye drops, gauge, tape, and the like. Know what items are in your kit and how to use them. Phone numbers for your pet's vet, the National Animal Poison Control Center hotline (888-426-4435), and emergency pet hospitals in the areas where you plan to travel should be taken along. Visit Emergency Tips at for more information.
  • Travel tag. A travel tag on a pet's collar or harness will help someone locate you locally should you and your pet become separated. The travel tag should contain information about where you are staying locally (while away from home), including addresses and phone numbers. A cell phone number is also a good idea since nowadays most people have one with them when they travel anywhere. Be sure to pack an updated photo of your pet that will also help identify him to others.
  • Treats, food and water. Pack the appropriate amount of food and water for your pet (and you!). New innovations in pet travel products make it easy to take along portable or collapsible food and water bowls and pet backpacks.

Here are a few other essentials that you should consider for your pet:

  • **Protective dog shoes for hiking in rough terrain or to protect from ice forming between toes in cold weather.
  • **A familiar chew toy is like a baby blanket and reinforcement to your pet. You may want to include two or three for a little variety or in case one becomes lost or your pet decides to hide one.
  • Grooming supplies. Burs, beggar's lice, hound's-tongue there are lots of names for all of those hijackers that get on pets and one's clothing while in the woods. It's advisable to have the right kind of brush to get those pesky things off your pet's coat. Additionally, in case your pet gets into something he shouldn't that may require a bath, some pet shampoo with you may do the trick. Pack some extra towels for drying or wiping muddy feet.
  • **You should always have a means of controlling your pet when you travel. Some animals get very anxious when they're in new territory and can become scared and run away or excited and want to explore. Be courteous of others in the campground, park or on the trail so they are not unnerved by a pet on the loose. Remember to check the leash regulations where you plan to romp with your pet before setting out. Wildlife such as snakes, skunks, porcupines, raccoons, bears, mountain lions, and coyotes can be a problem with a pet on the loose and can cause serious injury. Make sure your pet stays in close proximity to where you are hiking.
  • Some products last several weeks to kill adult fleas (and larvae), ticks and mosquitoes. Consider treating your pet, according to the manufacturer's directions, to make his camping experience more enjoyable.
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