camping with your pet

Camping is a fun activity for the whole family. There is no reason you can’t bring your pets with you, as long as you do so safely. VETMED has a few tips for how you can safely enjoy a camping trip with your furry family members tagging along.

Make Yourself Noticeable

If your pet will tolerate it, dress him or her in a colorful T-shirt or reflective vest and add a bell or something that makes noise so that he or she is always noticeable and traceable. Not only will this help you keep an eye on your pet’s whereabouts, but it also reduces the chances that your pet will surprise another dangerous wild animal, like bobcats or javelinas.  

Stay Clean

Always leave areas as clean as you found them and reduce your “pawprint” when camping. Bury any pet waste at least six inches in the ground and 100 feet from any water sources and living quarters. Avoid using plastic pet bags with the promise to “pick it up on the way back”. We all know how that goes…

What to bring:

  • Tweezers: When your dog brushes against a prickly cactus or cholla, you’re going to be glad you brought a pair.
  • Water bowls and plenty of water for you and your pet.
  • Food and snacks for your pet.
  • Pet mats, blankets, and bedding: We are in the valley of the sun but it sure gets cold at night.
  • Leash: Always be aware of leash laws on the trail or campsite you plan to visit. These rules can vary from place to place.
  • Protective booties for rough terrain.

What to avoid

  • Dense grass, bushes, woodpiles, rocks, and other areas where rattlesnakes might hide. Be aware of the wildlife that can commonly be found in the areas where you’re trekking. Signs of a rattlesnake bite include severe, sudden swelling around the site of the bite (usually the muzzle or a limb), and pain at the bite site. If you think your dog could have been bitten, seek immediate veterinary care.
  • Allowing your pet to drink from lakes or puddles, which can contain dangerous bacteria.
  • Prickly cacti like the jumping cholla cactus. These plants have sharp nettles that can very easily get stuck in your pet’s skin. This is especially painful and dangerous around the eyes and snout.
  • Overheating: Always provide plenty of fresh water and realize that if your pet is showing signs of overheating, you will need to find a shady place to rest quickly. Remember, your pet’s heat tolerance will always be lower than yours. If it’s too hot for you, it’s definitely too hot for your pet. When in doubt, turn around.

Heat Exhaustion Signs

  • Red gums or other mucous membranes
  • Heavy panting or drooling
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Lethargy, weakness, or collapse
  • High temperature, hot to the touch

Pro tip: Bring wet towels in a bag should you need to cool down your pet in an emergency.

If your pet experiences any signs of heat exhaustion, it is very important to get to a veterinary hospital right away. VETMED offers 24-hour emergency veterinary services for pet owners in the Phoenix area. Heat exhaustion can lead to further complications, which makes it a dire situation. Additionally, rattlesnake bites are extremely serious. Be sure that you are checking around for snakes. If your pet is bitten, seek emergency veterinary care. Call us at 602-697-4694 if you believe that your pet is experiencing heat exhaustion or has been bitten by a rattlesnake.