Camping with Your Pet – Guide & Checklist
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  • Post published:31/05/2021
  • Post last modified:31/05/2021

Camping with your pet is probably one of the best experiences you can share with them. Outside of the boundaries of your home, animals can truly enjoy themselves and you can relax without worrying about them breaking something. However, being outdoors has its own challenges and you should be prepared for them.

Camping with Dogs

Before we continue, it may be important to stress out that when we say camping with pets, we refer to dogs. Cats have their strong sides, like helping you get rich, but camping isn’t one of them. With cats, it is a whole different ball game, so in this article, we will focus on canines. Cats tend to hunt local fauna, especially birds and small rodents. They also can fall prey to bigger wildlife, like coyotes and foxes, not to mention wolves. Considering all that, it isn’t really advisable to take them camping, except in certain areas. 

Dogs, on the other hand, will not only be great company during camping but can also enhance your experience by pointing things out with their keen sense of smell. They can detect and alert you to various animal tracks you would probably miss on your own. This alone may be worth the price of admission. It should go without saying that dogs require a few things while camping and you should make sure they have it.

Where to Camp

Choice of the camping ground is a critical decision that can make all the difference between an enjoyable camping trip and a complete bust. There are some camping sites that prohibit dogs and other pets completely, so you want to stay away from them. 

You will also find that many national parks forbid dogs on hiking trails, so you will need to do some research before setting out. Getting to your destination and discovering that your dog is only allowed at the campsite will be a big disappointment. Unpleasantries can be avoided with a simple web search and a visit to a site.

Sleeping Arrangements

Many people like to have air mattresses out on camping. While that is perfectly understandable, not to mention very comfortable, having an air mattress and a dog under the same tent can be challenging, especially if you don’t trim the dog’s claws properly. Even if you do, their teeth are still a danger. One situation you want to avoid is finding leakage in your air mattress in the middle of the night. Not only your night will be ruined, but you will be forced to sleep on the ground for the rest of the trip unless you can fix it or can’t inflate it again. Make sure to have an alternative ready if that happens.

As for your dog, a sleeping pad will come in handy, not to mention that your dog will appreciate it. Its familiar scent will help him settle during that first night in the wild, with new sounds and smells surrounding it. Having something that he is familiar with will be a great help. You should also consider bringing a piece of tarp to lay underneath the bedding, to help insulate it from the ground.


You need to pack everyday essentials for your pet, just like you do for yourself. You will need a food and water bowl (or one of those pet-friendly water bottles), as well as a leash. Even in some pet-friendly camps, you will have to keep your dog on a leash most of the time, so don’t leave the house without one. You will also need some tie-outs, as well as a stake or two to create makeshift leash anchors. Occasionally you will find them very handy when you need to step away from your tent without your dog. For smaller dogs, you may consider bringing their cage, if you can fit in in your car. Poop bags are mandatory, as leaving your dog’s waste on trails will be frowned upon by other campers.

Food and Water

One thing you don’t want to do is changing your dog’s diet while camping. There will be enough challenges without it, so make sure you pack enough food so you don’t have to worry about running out or having to switch to another brand mid-camping. You will also need to account for increased caloric consumption during long walks, as your dog will expend extra energy on them.

Water may also be a concern. You will encounter some owners who let their dogs drink from streams or rivers, but that can be risky, as water can contain all sorts of parasites and bacteria. The best way to make sure your dog gets safe drinking water is to treat it like you treat your water.

Health Concerns

Before setting out, it is a good idea to check with your vet whether your dog is up to date with vaccines and other treatments. If there are some medicines he or she needs to take, make sure you have enough for the whole trip. Also, you want to have a phone number of a local vet in the area, just in case. Packing a canine first-aid kit is a must. 

You will need a flea and tick repellant, as well as something for poison-ivy rash treatment. Checking your dog for ticks every night is very important while out camping, as they can easily pass on to you or other members of your family.

Dog Outwear

Depending on the time of the year, you may want to bring some clothing for your dog. A vest can be a versatile solution, as it will keep your dog warm during those chilly evenings and mornings, while you can soak it in water to fend off the heat during the day. You can also consider getting a colling collar for that purpose as well. 

While you are at it, you might want to consider getting a doggie backpack, where you can pack snacks and water while you are out on the trail. Of course, keep in mind how much your dog can actually carry, and don’t overburden it.

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