Celebrating National Camping Month with Your Canine Companion

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Based on an article that first appeared at

It’s National Camping Month, and what better way to celebrate the great outdoors than by embarking on an adventure with your four-legged best friend? Just imagine the crisp mountain air, crackling campfire, and your dog by your side, tail wagging excitedly

Camping with your canine companion is a rewarding experience, fostering stronger bonds, providing much-needed exercise, and creating lasting memories. But before you hit the road with your dog, it’s important to do a little planning to ensure a safe, enjoyable trip for both you and your canine companion.

Doodle mix dog in tent, camping with family outdoors.

Planning Your Pawsome Adventure

The first step is making sure your canine companion is healthy enough to go on an adventure. Schedule an appointment for a routine wellness exam, and check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is up-to-date on their vaccines. Get them on an effective flea and tick preventative, too (if they aren’t already on one). These pesky parasites definitely are not souvenirs you want your dog to bring home! Lastly, consider having your dog microchipped to ensure they have a permanent form of identification just in case they wander a bit too far while adventuring.

Once your dog has a clean bill of health, the next step is figuring out where to go. Dog-friendliness is key, so research campgrounds with designated pet areas, waste disposal stations, and even dog parks where your pup can socialize safely. If you’ve never taken your dog camping before, consider a local destination — just in case your adventure doesn’t go as well as you hope. Make campground and activity reservations well in advance, especially during peak season, as spots fill up quickly in some locations.

Consider your dog’s needs and personality. Think about their breed, age, and physical capabilities when selecting trails and activities. A leisurely stroll through a scenic forest might be perfect for a senior Labrador, while a young Border Collie may crave the challenge of a more rigorous hike.

Be sure to choose a destination with shaded areas where your dog can cool down and relax. Pack a cooling mat or a cooling bandana that you can soak in water to keep your furry friend comfortable. You may also want to consider bringing a battery-operated fan to help your dog beat the heat after a long day on the trail. Know your dog's "normal" so you can be aware when things aren't normal.

Gearing Up for the Great Outdoors

In addition to your camping and hiking gear, pack essentials to ensure your furry friend’s comfort and safety.

Don’t leave home without these camping essentials for dogs:

  • Leash
  • Collar with ID tag
  • Food and water bowls
  • Dog food and treats
  • Medications
  • Waste disposal bags
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Tick remover
  • Bed for your dog to relax on
  • Cooling mat or bandana
  • Collapsible crate
  • Reflective vest for nighttime visibility
  • A few of your dog’s favorite toys
  • Contact information for your veterinarian and the nearest animal hospital

Setting Up a Dog-Friendly Campsite

Once you’ve chosen a campsite, prioritize creating a safe, comfortable space for your furry friend. Find a shaded area away from the main activity zones, like the campfire or cooking area. This will provide your dog with a quiet retreat to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of campsite life.

Campfires are a double-edged sword — cozy ambiance for humans, potential hazard for curious pups. To keep your dog safe from burns caused by sparks or hot embers, keep them on a leash whenever they’re near the campfire.

Nighttime adventures require a little extra vigilance. Use a leash for those late-night bathroom breaks, and keep a close eye on your canine companion to ensure they don’t get into any mischief under the cloak of darkness.

Finally, remember the golden rule of exploring the great outdoors: Leave No Trace. Always clean up after your dog, using designated pet waste disposal stations if available. If not, bury waste far away from campsites and water sources to ensure a clean and enjoyable environment for everyone.

Westie mix camping with family outdoors.

Hitting the Trail with Your Happy Hiker

Exploring the great outdoors with your dog is exhilarating, but safety should always be your top priority. As veterinarians, we have a few tips to keep in mind when hitting the trail.

If your dog isn’t used to long hikes, gradually build up their endurance with shorter walks before attempting more challenging trails. Also, keep your dog leashed at all times to keep them from disturbing wildlife, prevent encounters with other dogs, and protect them from getting lost in unfamiliar territory.

Hydration is vital, especially during hot summer weather. Pack plenty of fresh water and take frequent breaks so your dog can drink and rest. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heat stroke, and act quickly if your dog exhibits any concerning symptoms.

Be aware of your surroundings, and watch out for the following:

  • Uneven terrain that could cause paw injuries
  • Wildlife hazards like snakes, skunks, or porcupines
  • Hot surfaces that can burn tender paw pads
  • Insects, hives, and bug swarms

Be mindful of your fellow hikers, too. Keep your dog under control at all times, and, of course, clean up after them when they do their business along the trail.

Happy Camping!

Camping with your canine companion is an unforgettable experience, filled with adventure, bonding, and creating lasting memories. It’s a chance to see the world through your dog’s eyes and experience the excitement of a new scent on the trail, the thrill of chasing a butterfly, and the comfort of a fireside snuggle. By following these tips and prioritizing your dog’s safety and happiness, you can ensure a fun-filled adventure with your four-legged best friend!

If you have questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (402) 824-2529, or you can email us at [email protected]. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram.

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  • Dog Activities and Fun