Camping with your dog can be a great adventure for both you and your pet. There’s something about seeing the outdoors through a dog’s eyes that can make us pay attention to the sights and sounds we’d otherwise miss. But before you head to camp for the weekend, it helps to do some pet-specific planning. Here are some things to consider before you go:
- Check the regulations at your campground to make sure it’s pet-friendly.
- Plan to have your dog with you at all times. Most dogs don’t do well when left alone in unfamiliar environments. It’s also pretty unsafe to leave your pet in a car, tent, or camper for an extended period of time.
- Make sure your dog’s flea and tick medication is up to date.
- Update your dog’s ID tag (or microchip) with current contact info.
- Look up the nearest veterinary clinic to your campsite and note the phone number in case you have a pet-related emergency or medical need.
In addition to these considerations, you’ll also want to make sure you have the right gear for your pet. Dogs don’t need nearly as many things as human campers (at least not most dogs) but they do have some specific needs. Here’s our favorite camping gear for dogs that will help keep your pup happy:
When your dog is outdoors, there’s no end to the messes they can get into. One preventative measure against odors and germs is swapping out their typical collar for a waterproof/odor-proof collar. Kurgo’s Muck Collar is made from flexible material for your dog’s comfort but it also easily wipes clean with water. As a bonus, the collar comes with a matching leash.
A leash is a necessity when your dog is outdoors. Not only can you keep him with you when you’re on the trail, a leash and stake can keep your pup from wandering off at camp. This hands-free leash from Tuff Mutt is great for hiking while this leash and stake system is a good option for keeping your dog close to camp.
Bed or Blanket
Depending on the sleeping arrangements (and the dog), some campers prefer to let their dogs share their sleeping space. If your dog does better on her own, consider bringing a dedicated dog bed or blanket just for her. Chuckit offers this travel dog bed, or you can go the minimalist route and bring along this dog sleeping bag from Outrav.
Food and Water Bowls
For convenience’s sake, collapsible food and water bowls are a helpful addition to your pet camping gear. Not only can you use them at the campsite, you can also pack one for your daily adventures such as hiking or boating. That way, you can make sure your dog stays well-hydrated (and well-fed.). This set from Comsun has one bowl for food and one for water.
Safety lights ensure that other people can see your pet at night—including you! In a dark campground (or backcountry campsite), it can be too easy to lose track of a wandering pet. This LED collar light will help keep your pet safe.
Even in the wild, it’s important to pick up after your dog. According to the EPA, dog poop can be harmful to the environment, especially in locations where it introduces new bacteria and pathogens. Rather than the classic plastic bags that never break down, try these biodegradable bags from Doggy Do Good, a small family business based in Michigan. A portion of their proceeds go to animal shelters.
They might seem superfluous but boots can be a worthwhile investment for dogs whose paws aren’t used the outdoors. Even if your pup spends a lot of time outside, they might not be used to the terrain you’ll encounter on a camping trip. Check out our guide to the best hiking boots for dogs and see which option is best for your four-legged adventure buddy. Or, if you just can’t get your dog to wear boots, try using a protective layer of Musher's Secret.
Brush or Comb
Depending on your dog’s size, you might want to provide them with a pack. (In fact, working breeds actually like wearing packs because it gives them a “job” to do.) Try this dog backpack from Ruffwear.
If your camping trip involves swimming, paddling, or boating, it’s a good idea to bring a life jacket for your pet. Even dogs that love water can easily get tired and a life jacket will help keep them safe when they do. This model from Outward Hound is available in four sizes and comes with rescue handles.
The more you camp with your dog, the more you’ll know what they need in order for both of you to have a good time in the outdoors together!