A very important subject to cover is camping with pets tips! My wife and I never even think about camping without our dogs, but consequently there are a bunch of things to consider when taking your pets camping with you.
A few years back we had taken our cats with us once due to having our house tented for termites and we camped out locally while this was occurring. I think the toughest part of it was finding a place for the cat litter boxes and trying to figure out how to feed the cats without the dog eating their cat food.
At home the litter boxes are fairly large covered ones and are strategically placed in order to keep the dogs from accessing them. The cat food feeders and water are placed on an elevated platform that the dogs can’t reach or get to.
But in a trailer it may take a little creativity to achieve the desired outcome. We wound up using collapsible nylon pet enclosures with smaller litter boxes and smaller water and food bowls that would all fit into these pet enclosures. At that time we only had Kaylee our 60 lb. shepherd mix and she did really great with everything.
Fast forward to the summer of 2015. We do seem to see quite a few cats in motor homes when we’re camping and recently we decided we would try this again.
Mariah our oldest cat is no longer with us and has been gone for 2 to 3 years. Around June of 2015 we noticed that our remaining cat seemed to be having intestinal issues and in July we decided to take her in for an exam. The doc sent us home with some medicine that she needed to take for a while and since our vacation started in a week or so, we decided that Jezzie would be making the trip with us.
So Patty got a little creative with things and we started the accessories out with the same enclosure previously mentioned. We used a smaller plastic container that fit nicely in the rear of the nylon kennel and then for the food and water we just used a couple of pet bowls that we’ve had forever.
But where Patty got creative was a thin inexpensive disposable plastic table cloth that she wrapped tightly around the sides that would keep the cat litter in and would give Jezzie extra privacy.
During the days Jezzie’s kennel would sit on the bed tucked farther up towards the pillows and at night the cat kennel would sit on top of the dining table where Jezzie would be securely contained until we all woke up and started moving around in the mornings.
One of the most important tips on taking pets camping is that they will almost always be in areas that are unknown and unfamiliar to them and if they do get away from you, there is a great chance that they could be permanently lost. This should always be on one’s mind when that door is opened and your sweet pooch takes that first step out of your vehicle or your trailer.
Voice Commands Revisited…
As I mentioned on another page, our older dog, Kaylee is fairly responsive to voice commands and has proven to us over and over how valuable those lessons down at Petco or Petsmart can be. There is a tremendous joy in watching a dog run free and actually go through some routines, such as ‘cutting’ that are genetically planted in them from birth.
But it is a greater joy to watch them encounter animals found out in the wild, and faithfully respond to your command and retreat back to your side. And now that my wife has a little malti-poo, totally untrained, being able to control Kaylee is key because if Sophie (the malt-poo) ever gets out the door without a leash, she’ll run and follow Kaylee who will return on a simple voice command.
To Be Leashed or Not To Be Leashed…
This leads to talking about leash laws in the majority of campgrounds. Every single campground that we go to has a leash rule or law for dogs and is strictly enforced. Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of coyotes and we’ve been keeping both dogs on leashes consistently.
If you do head up to the Mammoth Lake area or farther north to Robinson Creek and Twin Lakes area, you may encounter a lot of bears in the early evening and night time and you will definitely want your dogs on leashes. These bears are not shy and will walk right through your campground, campfire or not!
Another one of the most important tips on taking your pets camping is that if you plan on camping in areas below 9000 ft where rattlesnakes may be prevalent, you may consider talking to your veterinarian about Rattlesnake Vaccination shots. They may cost ya’ a few coins but if your dog does encounter a rattler and gets bitten, the vaccination may give you 5 to 6 extra hours to get to the vet.
Rattlesnake avoidance classes and training are also available in many areas of California and may well be worth considering. Some may actually use live snakes. Most of the areas that we camp in are known to be common to rattlesnakes but as Ranger David down at Dos Picos Campground in the Ramona area explained to us, rattlesnakes tend to stay away from areas of vibration caused by vehicles and usually will stay away from most active campgrounds. But again, one must always be alert and it really is a good idea to keep your dog vaccinated and on a leash.
Vaccination and Records…
Some campgrounds will require that you have copies of your pet’s shot records and we have gotten into the habit of just keeping records of our dog’s shots with our truck and trailer registration. The most common campgrounds that will request these records are the Regional campgrounds in San Diego County and occasionally in Orange and Riverside County.
Along with your dogs vaccination shots records you’ll want to make sure that your veterinarians name and number is easily accessible. You can never predict when you’ll need it.
Those Pesky Little Ticks…
One winter we decided to go camping for a week or two up in the Big Sur area and our big dog wound up with a mess of ticks. We had never experienced this situation before and were really glad that we had all of our vet’s info available. It was quite a learning experience for us but would have been totally miserable if we couldn’t talk to our vet and get her help quickly.
And that reminds me to mention that if you are worried about ticks, be sure and talk to your vet about vaccinations and how to handle ticks if you do encounter them. It can be pretty intense and miserable for your dog if things aren’t handled and done right. There is quite an art to successfully and completely removing ticks from your dog!
The other side of it though is that it’s common for some dogs to have quite a nasty reaction to different preventative tick medications. We used Vectra for both of our dogs one season and for 3 or 4 days wondered if our malti-poo, Sophie was going to even survive it. Her reaction to it was within 4 to 5 hours and included some major hypertension. The first thing that we did for her was to call our vet and she told us to, as soon as possible scrub her down with Dawn dish detergent to remove any Vectra that might not have been absorbed into her skin,
After a while Sophie started slowing back down a little and by the next day she was pretty much back to normal. But, for a while, it was pretty intense and we really were concerned that her little body might not be able to take too much more.
Now when we pack our trailer for any and all trips we make absolute sure that we have bottle of Dawn dish detergent under the sink for any type of skin issues with the little dog.
Another tip here is to take some Benadryl with you but only if you check with your veterinarian first. The dosage for dogs varies quite a bit with weight and you should always administer it only after having your vet give you the specifics for each of your pets.
For us the bottom line is that taking all of the precautions and jumping through a few hoops is worth it for us to be able to take our dogs. I can’t imagine not taking my girl fishing… it just wouldn’t be fishing without my Kaylee girl. If you are willing to do a few things in your regular routine around home, and stick with it, taking your pets camping really is a fairly easy thing to do and is so wonderfully rewarding!
Next up… some incredible streams and lakes. Get out your maps and atlas’s… we’re going on a journey!
By R.C. Stude