The following article is courtesy of our partner, Banfield Pet Hospital. Used with permission.
With the sunshine and increased outdoor activity come unique needs for your pet. If your pet typically goes outdoors (whether for a short walk or a weekend camping trip) or simply rides in the car with you, you can take steps to lower his risk from many common summer and outdoor hazards.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when enjoying the summer weather with your pet is not to leave him in the car when it is warm outside. Internal car temperatures can quickly reach fatal levels. It’s best to leave your pet at home during the warmer months, unless your pet will be under constant supervision and kept out of a hot car.
For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that it is your dog who accompanies you when you go camping. First, make sure to bring the proper supplies:
- Fresh water and a collapsible bowl
- Food and treats
- Current ID tags and a well-fitting collar
- A sturdy leash for walking or securing your pet to a specific area
- A proper car restraint like a kennel or seatbelt
- A bed or blanket to lie on
- Doggie bags for waste
- Pad-protective booties for rocky/rough terrain, cacti or nettles
- First-aid kit
- Towel to clean your dog
- Snake-bite kit (if appropriate for your area)
- Dog sunscreen/hat
- Doggie backpack for sharing the load. Use only if your dog is used to carrying a pack.
You will also want to ensure that your dog stays on a leash at all times to avoid escape and confrontations with people and other dogs. You should always have control over your dog. Your dog should be up-to-date on all of his appropriate vaccines and flea and tick preventives and properly microchipped as well.
One of the most important things to do before you head to the woods is check ahead of time to make sure your camping site allows pets. Once you’ve done this, you’ll want to decide which type of camping will fit your dog’s personality and temperament, i.e., car camping, a walk-in campground, RV camping or a tent cabin.
You might need to limit your dog’s activity on camping trips on hotter days. If he is panting excessively and seems lethargic, take steps to cool his body temperature immediately, as these can be early signs of heatstroke. A quick swim in a lake or exposure to a fan will help lower your dog’s body temperature.
Your dog should sleep inside either your tent or vehicle, because sleeping outside can expose him to dangers during the night such skunks, raccoons, snakes, porcupines, bears, mountain lions and coyotes.
You’ll want to avoid poison ivy, oak or sumac (look for leaves of three); wild mushrooms, elderberries and acorns, which can be poisonous to dogs; foxtail (which can get caught in your dog’s fur and between his toes); burrs; seeds and thorns.
The campfire can be a real danger to your dog if it’s not supervised, so keep it at a safe distance. People food is also a no-no, as some foods can be toxic to your dog.
Giardia is a common water hazard and can cause severe cramping and diarrhea. Cryptosporidium is another water parasite that delivers similar symptoms. It is best to stop your dog from drinking directly from natural water sources unless you have a water-filtration system, iodine purification tablets or can boil your water for five minutes.
For activities like swimming, you can swim together or throw a toy or ball for your dog to retrieve. Be careful, however, around swift currents and waves. Extremely cold water can cause cramps and getting chilled can put your dog at risk for hypothermia.
If there are other dogs at the campsite, it is your responsibility to keep your dog under control as mentioned above and have him on a leash (or under voice control) at all times. You can use the principles of basic obedience training/socialization as your guide.
If your pet displays unusual behavior during warm weather, contact your veterinarian immediately. If you have questions about keeping your pet safe while camping this summer, speak with your Banfield veterinarian.
Imagine sitting in front of the campfire together or snuggling in your tent. Camping with your dog can be an experience you’ll never forget if you plan ahead and go prepared.