DOG CAMPING CHECKLIST
Whether you’re camping in a tent, RV, or cabin with your dog, it’s important to make sure you pack all the dog-necessities to be prepared! Below is a list of our favorite dog gear for camping: (I have included affiliate links below. By clicking on these, we earn a small portion of the sales with no extra cost to you, which in turn, really helps us making more content!)
Updated Collar Tags and Microchip Information
If something does happen and you’re separated from your dog, you want to make sure their tags and microchip point back to you. Something to keep in mind: if you’re camping somewhere where you don’t have cell service, you may want to include a secondary phone number to a family member or friend (or even a vet) who can be reached, and would be willing to hold your dog for you. For extra safety, if we are at a campground, we always add an additional tag with the campground’s information, and our site number.
One of the options I’ve seen others use are these tags where you can replace the inside card/paper with a new one every time you camp somewhere new. I’ve read that laminating the inside part can help with protecting it from water, but I can’t claim whether or not that will withstand a dog who gets soaked because they decide to take a dip in the local river.
Personally, I’ve always spent the extra $10 or so for one of the cheap engraved ones to include our campground information and site number. Not a lot of money for some extra piece of mind. These ones on Amazon are even just $3.99 a piece!
There’s a couple things to note here. First, it’s important to make sure your dog is up-to-date on their vaccines, and flea/tick/heartworm prevention. This will vary by location and preference as well, but make sure you do your own research on what’s needed/preferred. Secondly, you should make sure you have a copy of these vaccination records, especially Rabies if it’s a legal requirement where you’re camping. Finally, make sure to have searched for an emergency vet clinic nearest to where you’re camping. If an emergency happens, you don’t want to waste time searching for a vet, and in some cases you may not be able to if you have no cell service.
Speaking of emergencies, it’s important to have a first-aid kit for your dog. Depending on what happens, some problems can be easily treated with an appropriate first-aid kit (IE: Your dog rips a paw pad open.). It can also help with a major emergency, and could buy you more time (IE: Your dog gets a severe laceration that needs stiches. If you have stuff to wrap the wound, it can buy your dog time until you can get them to a vet for stiches.).
There are lot of things that can be inter-changeable between a human and dog first aid kit. Sometimes you can just purchase a good human first-aid kit, and then just add some canine-specific items to it. Some Good Starter First Aid Kits:
Leash, Tie-Out, Portable Fences
Even if your dog is fabulous at recall and doesn’t run off, it’s still a good idea to have a leash for hikes, and a tie-out/fence for the campsite. Sometimes it’s nice to have your dog out of the way when setting up camp. We prefer hands-free leashes when hiking, so our hands are free to do other things. You can also use a carabiner to attach a regular leash’s handle to your pack. We love these Hand Free Leashes.
If you are RV-camping, or camping with your vehicle, having portable fencing can be very helpful as well! We love our fencing from the brand Iris. It’s plastic so it won’t rust, and is very lightweight! (We use 3 sets of these gates.)
Poop Bags and MORE Poop Bags!!
When going anywhere with your dog, you definitely don’t want to forget the poop bags! Not only is it disgusting for the next camper to have to camp near your dog’s poop, but it can also cause dog-friendly areas to become non-dog-friendly, ruining it for you and other dog owners. There are already a lot of areas that forbid dogs, so as dog owners, we need to make sure we protect the one’s that allow our four-legged friends. These are our favorite poop bags (we love that they are bio-degradable!):
Another option to poop bags is a small, travel shovel. I would definitely look into the policies/rules of the area you’re camping/hiking in, but sometimes burying the poop in a hole 6-8 inches deep, 200 feet from water sources is an acceptable method if you can’t pack it out.
Both a harness and collar are not necessary, but your dog should have at least one to have their tags attached to. For us, we utilize both for different reasons. We use our collars to attach their tags and nightlights to, but they also come in handy to clip a leash to real quick at the campsite. For hikes/walks, we much prefer using their harnesses. For hikes, we prefer a harness with a handle, in case the dogs need assistance crossing a river, or climbing over some rocks/boulders. If you use a harness, it’s important to use a well-fitted harness that doesn’t rub badly, especially in their armpits. Our favorite harness for more extreme hikes is the Ruffwear Webmaster Harness. It fits both of our dogs real well, and has three straps instead of two, which makes it extra secure!
Food and Water
This is one of the more obvious things, but still deserves a mention. I always recommend packing more food than what they would normally eat, for a couple different reasons. Firstly, when you’re camping, often you’re doing a lot more hiking/walking than you normally would. Since they’re burning more calories than normal, it can definitely benefit them to feed them a little more to keep their energy levels up. The other reason would depend on the type of camping you’re doing. If there’s any chance of you becoming lost and are out longer than planned, it can be a life-saver having more food than you originally planned for. If you’re car-camping from an established campground not far from town/home, this may not be a worry for you. But if you’re doing some backcountry backpacking type of camping, this is something to think about.
For water, you can either pack enough water for them, or use a water-filtration device, assuming you’re near a water source. It’s important your dog stays hydrated, so don’t skimp on the water!
Other items that may be necessary depending on your dog is Pedialyte, Bouillon Cubes, and/or different food toppers/wet food. Some dogs don’t drink enough water when hiking, so the Pedialyte or Bouillon Cubes can help entice your dog to drink more water. (There are different types of Bouillon Cubes, and in general, are not the greatest long term. They can normally be used is small quantities if there is a risk of your dog becoming dehydrated. I would consult with your vet on the best method for your dog!)
There are also dogs that have a hard time eating their food when away from home. Good food toppers, or wet food added to their normal food, could help with this.
There are a lot of options when it comes to sleeping/lounging spots for your dog. The type of camping you do, and your specific dog will determine what you can and should take. Cots can be very handy for keeping your dog off the ground, but aren’t realistic if you have to walk into/ backpack into your site. If you’re camping near your car, our favorite cots are the Carlson brand Dog Cots. They fold up for easy storage and are well-made.
If you’re RV or cabin camping, you can easily just bring their dog bed from home. You may also have the option of sharing a bed or couch with your pup if you so choose.
If you’re tent camping, you have many options. If it’s not cold out, sometimes just bringing a blanket to lie on can be good enough for your dog. You can even just bring their dog bed from home. If it’s going to be colder out, you may want to invest in a dog sleeping bag. There are a lot of different sleeping bags for dogs on the market, with varying price ranges. If your dog is prone to being cold, investing in a nicer one like from Hurrta or Ruffwear will definitely be worth it for your dog! Some dogs, like Northern Breeds, may be very uncomfortable in a sleeping bag, even when it’s cold. Do what’s best for your individual dog.
Something else that can come in real handy is a light for your dog. It can get quite dark camping in some areas, so having a light on your dog can add some piece of mind in the dark. There are different brands of light-up collars, but we always preferred just buying the clip-on lights that clip right to their collars so we don’t have to carry another collar. They stay on them during the day, and we just turn them on at night. Ruffwear makes excellent ones that are rechargeable; but you can also get cheaper ones like these from NiteIZE.
Some non-essential items you may want to bring for your dog are toys, chew things, and treats. Toys and chew things can help make your dog feel more comfortable in a new area, or can help keep them busy while you’re setting up camp. A Kong filled with peanut butter, or a new Bully Stick can really keep them distracted while you’re busy putting up a tent. Toys are also just great if you want to have some fun with your dog (think frisbee or floating toy if you’re near a lake). Treats are also not a necessity, but can help distract a dog. We also believe there’s always moments to train, so having treats on hand can help if you find a great training moment (IE: You want to reward your dog for remaining calm while deer cross through your campsite).
This list includes most of the necessities you will need when camping with your dog. I’m sure there are other things that you may find as a necessity that other’s may or may not, and I would love to hear about them in the comments!
For example: Something that is a must for us is my treat pouch/bag. (AKA Glorified fanny pack LOL.) Our girls are reactive, so treats can be a helpful distraction, and having them right on me in my treat pouch is a MUST for me. One time I forgot it on a camping trip and I was so miserable. I had to buy a cheap camera case and fashion it into a makeshift treat pouch LOL.