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. 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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1) I’D tags
This might sound like a no-brainer but I’m not talking about just any set of pet ID tags here. Yes, I said SET. 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 Chester and Gretel camping, they wear two different types of ID tags. They wear their regular PetHub Digital ID tag. This tag links to an online profile with my contact information, alternate contact methods (including my veterinarian) and any important health information about my pets. This is important to me because if someone finds my dog and can’t get a hold of me, they (hopefully) take it home with them and keep trying to get a hold of someone. Chester and Gretel also wear an engraved tag with 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.
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 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, vetwrap 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.
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. You can leash them and tie your dog to something but the leash can get tangled (so you are always having to get your dog untangled), they could drag their leash through the fire and melt it, or people can trip on it and fall. I know because all of those things have happened to us. Some of them several times. This lightweight, foldable dog pen for camping sets up in seconds, is easy to move around, and keeps your pet in one place without anything to get tangled or trip over.
4) Dog Bed and Blanket
Even if you have a small dog, a sleeping bag can get really cramped with the two of you in there. We bring a bed and blanket camping with us. Besides placing it outside the tent for them to lounge on while we are sitting around camp or making dinner, we place it in between our two sleeping bags at night (the cot helps keep it off the ground and clean so sticking it in the tent is no biggie). It acts as kind of a “sleeping bag extension” and the dogs don’t know they aren’t in my actual sleeping bag. Our favorite combo is the Ruffwear Highlands Dog Bed with a Rumpl Outdoor Baby Blanket (larger ones are also available). You can also combine the two and go with a dog sleeping bag like the Hurtta Outback Dreamer or Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag.
Because of Gretel’s back issues, Chester’s old bones and joints and, well, because they are incredibly spoiled, I don’t want them laying on the uneven, hard, wet, and cold ground. The folding dog cot not only keeps your dog off the ground but it keeps their favorite camping dog bed off of the ground too so it doesn’t get as wet and dirty. The cot resembles a folding camp chair if you made the legs super short and took the back off. It sets up in seconds and folds down compactly with a single motion.
6) 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. My #1 choice for microfiber towels is the PackTowl Luxe because the texture is like an actual towel, not a glorified chamois, but is 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.
7) 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. I like the PawGanics Citrus Grooming Wipes because they 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!
8) 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.
9) Dog Jacket
Unless you live in a hot, dry climate where it never rains, your dog will need a jacket at some point. I have way to many jacket suggestions to list them all here so be sure to check out my article on Jackets That Fit Dachshunds and Other Hard to Fit Breeds. However, there are a couple I would like to highlight for the warmer spring and summer months. I HIGHLY recommend the Hurtta Torrent if your dog needs a light rain coat, the Teckelklub Fuzzie if your dog needs a light fleece (it goes well under the rain coat if extra warmth is needed too).
10) 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. The Hurtta Cooling Harness Vest. However, I’ve heard the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler works well (I’ve heard this from larger dog owners). Ruffwear also has a new cooling product – the Jet Stream High Performance Cooling Vest – cut for fast and light athletic endeavors.
Of course, you also need to bring your dog’s food and some treats. Some people like to bring a toy for their dog to play with. I bring a treat toy in case I need to keep Chester and Gretel distracted for a while (like from all of the people walking by in the campground.
Are there other things you would bring?