Safe camping with your dog (part 1)

Unless you are into seriously wild camping most tents will be pitched on campsites so your first priority must be checking if your selected campsite is dog friendly. Campsites can be very busy places resembling tented villages.  You have to remembers that tent walls are thin and contain sound poorly so noisy dogs will not be welcome. Despite the absence of obvious boundary’s campers innately respect each other’s privacy but dogs will not understand this social etiquette. Unrestrained dogs may wonder into other camper’s tents, scare children, knock over camping stoves, steal food or fight with other dogs. It is clear that owners have to make special preparations to enjoy a stress free camping trip with their dog.

Probably the single most important factor is to have a well-trained well socialised dog in the first place and this preparation starts from puppyhood. Nuisance barkers, dogs which fail to recall, aggressive dogs will not be welcome on busy campsites. At the end of a day hiking or exploring most campers will want to relax – a well-behaved dog that knows when to settle down is essential.  Before embarking on a 2 week holiday it is a good idea to plan a short weekend trip to see how you and your dog cope with camping together.

If you are planning to do lots of hiking with your dog it is essential that your dog is adequately fit and has sufficient stamina to cope with your proposed route. Both you and your dog should prepare by training for the trip.  If you are going to be walking across very rough terrain you may even want to consider getting your dog boots, such as ‘Ruff Wear GRIP Trex’, to prevent their pads from becoming abraded.

Camping may expose dogs to different hazards which need to be recognized and managed.  Depending on the time of the year external parasites, particularly ticks and harvest mites, may pose a particular problem. Both of these external parasites are related to spiders and particular anti-parasitic treatments need to be used to prevent infestation. External parasite treatment should be applied a few days before the trip so that protection persists for the duration of the trip.

Dogs are more likely to be exposed to Leptospirosis when camping because the wild animals are a reservoir of infection and they are most active in the summer.  This bacteria is passed in the urine of wild animals and becomes washed into streams, ponds and puddles after rain.  If a dog drinks from these water sources it may become infected resulting in liver or kidney disease. Leptospirosis vaccination immunity is very short lived and should be boosted annually to prevent infection.

It is sensible to have your dog microchipped but The Control of Dogs Order 1992 says that your dog must wear a collar with a tag inscribed with the owners name and address when in a public place.  When you are on holiday it’s probably more important to have your mobile phone number on your dog’s tag so that you can be contacted immediately.

Check out part 2 of our article on camping with your dog next week!

David Chamberlain BVetMed., MRCVS.
Veterinary Consultant to PetSafe®

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