Laura's Full Camping Checklist:
Before you leave, jot down the phone # to the 24/7 animal hospital located nearest your campground. Cell phone service is often spotty at best in many small towns and the last thing you want is to be lost in the event your dog needs emergency medical care. Travel safely, with your dogs in a car seat or secured seatbelt harness. Bring lots of dog food to keep your dog full. Campfire BBQ leftovers are a wonderful treat, but please only feed your dog such delicacies in moderation! Remember to only share lean meats without bones or excess sauce and spices! Bring a ton of water from home… whatever your dog is used to. Nature's lakes and rivers are great to swim in, but you never know what's in the water and it could make your dog sick. With the summer heat, and all the fun activities you'll be doing, your dog is going to want far more water than usual. Bring your dog's favorite toys and include bully sticks or something else safe to chew on. Camping is fun, but exhausting sometimes and it's nice for dogs to have something mellow to do like chew on a bone while humans are relaxing around the campfire. Include dog-specific items in your first aid kit, like a tick key, snake bite kit, or poison absorbing first aid gel. Make sure your dog is healthy enough to brave the elements. It can be extra hot during the day, then extremely cold at night. If you're not sure, consult with your veterinarian. Depending on where you'll be camping, your vet may suggest a rattlesnake or lyme disease vaccination. Double check that your dog's tags are up-to-date and securely attached. You may want to consider bringing flexible glow sticks to attach to your dog's collar at night for extra visibility around your campsite. Be realistic about whether it's safe to let your dog off-leash. When camping, you'll have to be extra careful with bears, rattlesnakes, other dogs, and many more potentially dangerous elements. So if there is a doubt, there is no doubt. Only let your dog hike or hang out around your tent off-leash if you are 100% certain that your dog is ready for it! A light-weight portable crate or exercise pen is your dog's camping best friend. Regardless of how trained your dogs are, it's really nice to have a safe, quiet place for them to relax. My dogs chill in the crate while the humans are setting up camp. Then at night, they like to sleep in their crate, which is located inside of the humans' tent. Make sure you pack extra towels and blankets to keep your dog(s) comfy at night. If your dog is not reliable off-leash or you're at a campsite with a lot of other dogs, you'll want to bring a tie-out or exercise pen to keep your dog safe around your tent. And whether your dog is free or leashed, make sure that you have some type of portable shade, to protect your best friend from too much sunshine. If you plan on swimming with your dogs, be sure to bring a doggie life jacket with a handle. No matter how great of a swimmer your dog is, you just never know what may happen in the water, so be prepared. One time, Lucy jumped in to save my mom after her kayak tipped, only to end up getting caught in the river current. Thankfully, she had her life jacket on and mom was able to quickly swoop her up to safety! Sun block isn't just for humans! Please protect your dog's delicate nose and skin from the sun. I like using a sunblock stick for my dogs' noses and a spray for their bodies. You want to use at least SPF 15 and don't forget to re-apply often! Many companies make vegan, natural sunscreen specifically for pets, so try shopping at your local natural pet boutique! Definitely pack a comb and/or brush to remove stickers, fox tails, and check for fleas or ticks! You'll want to do this after every hike and before bedtime. If your dog isn't already on a monthly flea/tick program, you should consider a natural flea/tick spray before embarking on your adventure. Finally, a few non-essential dog accessories you may want to pack include a doggie backpack, paw protectors, or cooling jacket. You know your dog best, so make sure your dog is comfortable and ready for whatever nature has in store! Get more dog friendly tips from Laura Nativo at lauranativo.com and on Twitter @LauraNativo.
For more on the adorable doggies on today's show, visit "Strangest Angels Animal Rescue" at strangestangels.org.