You have chosen the camping site and mapped out your desired hiking trails. You cannot wait to introduce your dog to the wonders of camping life. Before you start packing, however, the team at Alpine Animal Hospital wants you to consider a few questions to ensure you and your pet have a safe and enjoyable trip.

#1: Is my dog protected, healthy, and fit for the trip?

You should consider your dog’s ability to handle the rigors of the trip, and ensure their vaccines and parasite preventives are up to date.

  • If your dog’s usual day revolves around the couch, and their idea of exercise is a meandering walk through the neighborhood, they may not be up to the challenges of a camping trip.
  • If your dog is older and arthritic, they may find traversing steep, uneven terrain difficult.
  • Brachycephalic breeds, such as boxers and Boston terriers, are prone to respiratory issues, especially in warmer weather. Any dog can suffer from heat exhaustion, and you should monitor your pet closely for signs.
  • Ensure that your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date. The core vaccines we provide include protection against leptospirosis, which your dog could contract by drinking contaminated water.
  • Ensure that your pet is on a comprehensive parasite prevention program that protects against fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Most campsites and hiking trails are inhabited by fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, so protect your pet from these critters and the diseases they carry.

#2: Is your dog a “camping dog?”

If your pet is healthy enough for the trip, you also want to ensure that they have the right mentality for a camping venture.

  • Your dog should be leash-trained and not resent being leashed for long periods of time, because most campgrounds and hiking trails require pets to be leashed. If your pet resents restraint, your trip will be upsetting for you and your dog.
  • Your dog should be well socialized around other dogs and people and not be prone to aggressive behavior.
  • Your dog must not vocalize constantly. People choose to camp for peace and quiet and will be irritated if your dog barks all night.

#3: What are campsite regulations in regards to dogs?

Some campsites and hiking trails are off-limits to dogs, while others allow dogs with a permit. Check the web page of the site you will be visiting to ensure you respect their requirements. You could find yourself with a hefty fine if you fail to follow their rules.

#4: What supplies should you bring for your pet?

A few items are essential when hiking and camping with your pet.

  • Fitted collar with accurate identification
  • Short, flat leash—do not use a retractable leash when hiking or camping
  • Enough nutritious food and treats for at least two days more than the length of your trip
  • Water and water bowl—at least one quart of water for every three miles you plan to hike
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Plastic bags to dispose of excrement

#5: What are dog etiquette rules on the trail?

Not everyone is comfortable around dogs, and you should be considerate of your fellow hikers when you take your dog on the trail.

  • Keep your dog close, preferably leashed, and under your command at all times.
  • Do not allow your dog to approach other hikers.
  • Keep the dog-to-human ratio at 1:1.
  • Greet approaching hikers cordially to signal to your dog they are friendly.
  • Step off a narrow trail with your dog to allow other hikers right of way.
  • Clean up after your pet, using plastic bags to pick up their waste, or bury the excrement at least six inches deep.

#6: How do you keep your dog safe from wildlife and the environment?

Most wild animals will steer clear of your pet and do not pose a threat, but may attack if they feel provoked. Certain natural elements can also be dangerous for your dog.

  • Keep all food supplies and garbage in sealed containers in your car to prevent predators from seeking out an easy meal.
  • Do not allow your dog to stick their head under heavy vegetation or in holes. They may disturb a wild animal that will strike back when their privacy is invaded.
  • Be cognizant of your dog when near a cliff. They will not intentionally jump over, but may run ahead and not be aware of the drop off.
  • Natural water sources may contain water-borne illnesses that can infect your pet if they drink or swim in the water. If you cannot keep your water-loving pooch out of the wet stuff, steer them toward clear, running water that is less likely to contain pathogens. Offer your pet frequent drinks from the bottled water you brought along so they don’t drink from natural sources.

With these recommendations in mind, you can plan a fun-filled, safe excursion with your pet. If you would like your dog evaluated before setting off on your journey, contact Alpine Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment.