Camping With Pets

If you can't part with your pet, you probably want to take him or her with you on your camping trip. Many people do this as their pets are part of the family and to some couples, their "kids." It may seem like a fine idea, but pets are not always welcome at campgrounds and there are several things you should check on before you pack your pet.

Dogs

You know your dog better than anyone else. If he or she is not friendly around strangers or other animals, it's time to reconsider. Well-behaved pets make the best campsite companions and are less likely to cause problems with other campers. Dogs that are used to being on a leash usually take it in stride and won't feel angry being restrained. Some dogs are well trained and better suited for outdoor sports such as hiking, backpacking and hunting. They obey commands, stay within the vicinity, and will come to you when called. If you're an avid camper, you may want to take your dog often. Teach him the basics and move on to more advanced training when he's ready. Trained dogs won't embarrass you or wreak havoc on your vacation.

Cats

Cats are riskier to take camping, unless you're traveling in a motorhome or camper. If Tabby gets out, you may lose your feline friend forever. The phrase "curiosity killed the cat" came about for a reason. The minute your cat gets out, he may be frightened at first but he's likely to go on a "hunting" expedition that may last longer than your trip. If you take your cat, bring along a pet carrier to keep him restrained when you're running in and out, preparing for a meal or hiking trip. You will also have to take along a litter box and deal with the smell. A cat's claws can cause damage to canvas gear or tents. On the other hand, a de-clawed cat is defenseless if he gets lost. Keep in mind that cats are sensitive creatures and usually do not adapt well to change. Some get diarrhea and very sick. Camping with cats is not always a good idea, but some can handle the changes and adjust quite well.

Rules and Restrictions

Not all campgrounds and national parks allow pets. Some discourage them but still allow them, others will allow only one. If pets are permitted, it's a privilege and you'll probably find a strict set of rules. The chances are that you'll have to keep him restrained at all times. That's a good thing because it protects yourself as well as the other campers and keeps him from getting lost. Find out if there's a pet yard and what the hours are for use. Barking dogs are a nuisance, particularly at night. Be prepared to stay up with your dog to keep him quiet so other campers can sleep. After all, you brought him and others shouldn't have to suffer from an unruly canine.

Health and Supplies

It's always a good idea to take your pet to the vet for a quick checkup. Make sure all of his vaccinations are current and that he's in good health. Ask for a copy of vaccination records and get some dog or cat tags, verifying his shots. Along with this, you should have a collar with an ID, tick collar, and spare collar. His leash should be strong and easy to manage. Bringing his favorite toy and treats may help him feel more comfortable while in unfamiliar surroundings. A pooper scooper and plastic bags are mandatory because you'll be expected to clean up after him.

“Woodland in full color is awesome as a forest fire, in magnitude at least, but a single tree is like a dancing tongue of flame to warm the heart.” - Hal Borland