Are you new to camping with dogs or have you done it so infrequently that you forget what dog camping gear you should bring?
I’ve been camping with my dogs for years. I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error and have decided that there are 10 things I won’t leave home without.
UPDATED: May 17, 2021
This isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s our must-have list for every camping trip. To me, it’s just not pleasant or safe without them.
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Dog Camping Gear Items You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without
1) Pet ID tag
This might sound like a no-brainer but I’m not talking about just any pet ID tag here.
If your pet gets lost near your home, anyone that finds your pet can call you.
In the woods, it’s very likely that that the finder, you, or both don’t have cell phone coverage so contacting you via phone to return your pet can be impossible.
When I take my Dachshunds camping, they wear a waterproof Dog ID Capsule. The pod contains a little piece of paper rolled up inside with information on it.
I include the standard “lost pet” information like my phone number (yes, even though, as I said, the finder may not have service to call you) but also list my vehicle make, model, and license plate number.
That way the finder can possibly locate my car in the campground, or at the trailhead, if they are unable to contact me by phone and leave a note.
2) First Aid Kit (with Dog Specific Items)
You should always bring a first aid kit for yourself when camping. Don’t forget about your pup though.
While some of the things in a human first aid kit will also work for dogs, much of it won’t.
For example, bandage tape is unlikely to stick to them because of the fur. And cut paws can be awkward and difficult to wrap.
You can buy a pre-made first aid kit for you and your dog like the Me & My Dog First Aid Kit from Adventure Medical or you can just add dog specific stuff to yours.
Some things I suggest adding are various Pawflex Bandages to help wrap difficult areas like paws, ankles, and elbows, Vet Wrap self adhering bandaging tape (excellent for you too), 3% hydrogen peroxide and a syringe to induce vomiting (ask your vet about this first), and a TickEase Tick Remover.
3) A Portable Pet Pen
It’s not always a good idea to let your dog run free at a campground, especially crowded campgrounds with a lot of strangers, children and other dogs.
When I want to make sure my dog can’t wander off from camp when I turn my back, my #1 choice for containing my pups is to use a collapsible, portable pet pen.
Our favorite is the dog playpen from Carlson Pet Products because it’s not too heavy, sets up and breaks down in less than a minute, and is sturdy.
If you want to create a larger space, or your dog is larger, try using a foldable metal dog exercise pen (you may have to link a couple together to make the size you need).
Why a pen when I could just tie my dog to something?
Leashes can get tangled, can become a trip hazard, can melt of they get too close to a campfire, and they don’t allow your dog to move around as freely.
4) Dog Bed and Blanket
If you have a small dog, you may choose to sleep with them inside the sleeping bag, or under the blankets, with you.
But they will need a bed and blanket for lounging around camp or if you want them to have their own cozy place to snuggle inside at night.
I always bring a bed and blanket camping with us. There are several different ones I like though.
I bring a bed and blanket from this favorites list:
- Kurgo Waterproof Dog Bed
- Whyld River Dog Sleeping Bag
- Elevated Dog Bed (Cot) from Carlson Pet Products
- Rumpl Puffy Outdoor Camping Blanket
- Kelty Bestie Outdoor Blanket
- Tall Tails Premium Fleece Dog Blanket
5) Microfiber Dog Towel
Dog towels are a must to wipe to dry your dog, and wipe the dirt off, before they get in your lap or in your tent.
Microfiber towels are the best for camping because they will dry quickly when you hang them and they pack down small.
My #1 choice for microfiber towels is the PackTowl Luxe because the texture is like an actual towel, not a glorified chamois, but the fibers are not loops that feel weird to the touch or “sticky” .
I bring different colors for dogs and people so we don’t get them confused.
6) Grooming Wipes
One key to keeping your tent clean is to “wash” your dog before they get in.
Sometimes wiping them with a towel is enough but sometimes your dog might be stinky or there could be dried mud that won’t come off.
Grooming wipes will take care of that for you.
Both are made with natural, plant-based ingredients, are durable enough to take on muddy paws, and don’t contain parabens, sulfates, phthalates, toxins, lanolin, soap or alcohol.
I use the wipes on myself sometimes too!
If I want to be more environmentally friendly, instead of single-use wipes I have to throw in the trash I spray the dogs down with Skout’s Honor Probiotic Deodorizer and dry them off with a towel.
7) Collapsible Dog Bowl
A collapsible dog bowl is easy to pack and stow out of the way when not in use.
We’ve been using the Dexas Popware for Pets Collapsible Travel Cup for years.
I’ve tried others but always come back to this one because it’s easy to clean, I love the colors, it collapses easily into a small disk, and it’s durable.
8) Dog Jacket
Unless you live in a hot, dry climate where it never rains and stays warm at night, your dog will need a jacket at some point.
My Dachshunds have a lot of different jackets for different weather conditions. Read our list of favorite dog jackets for a comprehensive look at my dog’s wardrobe.
If you just want the cliff notes though, here are my favorite dog jackets to bring camping in the summer:
9) Cooling Vest
Not every canine camper will need a cooling vest. However, they are great if you will be camping or hiking in the heat.
A cooling vest is made of water absorbent mesh. The as the water evaporates off of the vest, it cools your dog.
Note: I’ve heard good things about the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler too but mostly from works well but mostly for people with standard Dachshunds or larger dogs.
10) Food and Treats
Of course, you also need to bring your dog’s food and some treats.
If we are just going to be gone a couple days, and I can keep it sufficiently cold in a cooler, I bring my dog’s regular raw food.
If we’re going to be out longer, and especially if we are changing campsites every night (like when we go overlanding), I feed my dogs dehydrated raw food for convenience.
A couple of my favorite go-to freeze dried dog food meals are:
What are some of your favorite items to bring for your dog?