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Camping with your dog is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and let yourself get unstrung in the great outdoors. It is also a great way to strengthen the bond you have with your dog. But you need to plan ahead for it. Removing your dog from the confines of your yard makes him vulnerable to a variety of unexpected dangers. Depending on the time of the year, the location, proximity to wildlife, the degree of flea/tick infestation and the general health of your dog, camping can either be great fun or a significant health challenge.
- Safe transportation – Most of the pet owners transport pets in their own trucks, cars or Winnebago. If you are also planning to do that, make sure that you use a good quality travel harness. The harness must attach easily to the seat-belt and securely restrain your dog to his seat. Before you get the harness, make sure that it is crash-tested.
- Temperature safety – Most people tend to go camping during the summer months, but some of them brave the colder climates to go for outdoor excursions. Cold weather can induce hypothermia in your dog. On the other hand, extreme heat can mess around with the thermo-regulating mechanisms of your dog. Remember that, unlike humans, dogs can’t clear the heat in their body through their skin. They lose heat through their respiratory tract, which is why they pant a lot whenever they are exposed to a warmer climate. Short faced dog breeds are more prone to heat related illnesses as they cannot move air through their respiratory tracts as well as some of the longer faced dogs.
- Camping site safety – Make sure the camp site is free of insects that feed on your dog’s blood and spread life threatening parasitic, bacterial or viral infections. Ticks spread pathogens like Ehrhlichia and Lyme disease. Mosquitoes can carry parasites, like the heartworm. Take your pet to the vet before you go camping. He/she will prescribe preventative medication that should deter the ticks, fleas and mosquitoes. Your pet can also become prey for the predators in your camping spot. Make sure you keep your trash and food supply in secure containers or inside your vehicle to prevent the wildlife in the area from scavenging. Hawks, coyotes, wolves and bears could snatch, track or kill your dog. Possum, raccoons and other small animals could end up fighting with your pet, cause serious bite wounds and spread fatal diseases. Make sure you walk your dog on a flat, short lead when you are going out for a bathroom break. Never leave your dog unattended at the campsite.
Schedule a physical exam with the vet before you take your pet camping. He/she will prescribe anti-parasite protocols
and tell you whether your pet is healthy enough to go camping.