Camping and Traveling Safety for Pets

Going on a family trip isn't quite the same without the family's pet in tow. Even people who are single can enjoy their travels more with their four-legged companion along for the ride. This is particularly true when it comes to outdoor excursions such as camping or hiking. On the surface, camping seems like the ideal outing for people with pets, as no special accommodations such as pet-friendly hotels are needed. Unfortunately, traveling and camping with one's pet isn't all fun times. Care must be taken to ensure that the animal can travel safely, that it is allowed at the campsite, and that all rules regarding animals are strictly followed.

Before starting one's camping trip with a pet, planning and preparing are critical. If the dog has never traveled in a vehicle, the first step is to ensure that there are no problems such as anxiety. This is easily determined by taking the animal on a short test drive around the neighborhood. Dogs that are afraid of being in a moving vehicle aren't good candidates for the drive necessary to go camping and should be left at home or with a neighbor. If one's pet is relaxed, a trip or call to the vet is the next step in preparing. While camping, pets will be susceptible to ticks and fleas from wildlife. Pet owners will want to ask the vet to recommend treatments to prevent infestation or bites. Vets can also instruct pet owners on how to look for and safely remove ticks if necessary. Just like humans, pets will need supplies for the trip. Pet supplies include a crate or harness for car travel, a food and water dish, pet food, a first aid kit, and a leash. They may also want to consider getting the dog micro-chipped so that it can be found if it becomes lost. If micro-chipping isn't an option, make certain that it is wearing a collar with tags for identification.

Another step that is critical when preparing for a camping trip with one's pet is to contact the state park or campground that one plans to visit. This is one of the most important steps as it will affect whether one's pet can be a part of the trip or if another location must be selected. Call the park or campground or check its website online to verify that pets are allowed. In addition, pet owners will want to ask about restrictions and rules regarding animals.

  • Collapsible water and food bowls are a good choice for travel because they are easily stored.
  • Some parks may require dogs remain on the leash at all times while on the grounds.
  • Leashes are often a requirement on trails, even if the dog isn't required to stay on the leash at all times.

While traveling to the campsite people will want to ensure that their pets are safe from injury. This is where the crate or harness comes into play. Animals should always be secured while in the car. Crates are an option for larger dogs and should provide them with enough room to lie down and move around comfortably. Harnesses or doggie seat belts allow dogs to sit on the car seat as opposed to inside of a crate. Pet owners should avoid feeding animals while the car is in motion or giving them water. For safety purposes, pets should not be allowed to stick their heads outside of the window as they may become stuck or the animal may be injured by flying debris. Leaving pets inside of a hot car or allowing them to ride unrestrained in the bed of a truck are potentially deadly and often illegal.

  • Safety harnesses, pet seat belts and crates help protect animals and human passengers in the event of an accident. They do this by preventing the animal from flying out of the car or into humans, and potentially causing additional injury or death.
  • A blanket from home and/or a favored toy can help a pet feel more comfortable when riding in the car.
  • Regular stops are often necessary so that the dog can eliminate and stretch its legs.

After arriving at the campsite it is important to follow all of the rules for the safety of one's pet and family. In addition, others camping nearby may not be as pet-friendly. Even if there are no rules that require pets to be leashed while on the campgrounds, it is never wise to let them wander out of sight. Pets can disturb wildlife and may become injured or even lead dangerous wildlife back to the campground. If allowed to wander, they may also come into contact with plants that are poisonous to pets, such as wild mushrooms or elderberries. Other plants can be an irritation to pets, such as foxtail for example. During extremely hot days, people should watch their pets for signs of heat exhaustion. These signs may include lethargy or excess panting. Provide pets with clean water from a bottle, but make sure that it isn't too cold. Pet food should be safely stored and any leftovers discarded to prevent scavengers from entering the camp. At night, animals should sleep inside of the tent with their owners or they should be secured within the vehicle to prevent it from potentially becoming the victim of wild animals such as coyotes, mountain lions or snakes.

  • Frequent barking can disturb wildlife and may upset neighbors. Dog owners should make every effort to control their dog's barking.
  • Dogs do not have sweat glands, which is why they can easily experience heat stroke.
  • Parasites, such as Giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium, are often found in natural water sources. These parasites can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems in pets and humans.

Mattress Insider


Jennifer McBride is a staff writer with MattressInsider. Jennifer loves to write.

You can find out more about on her Google+ page.