Dog Camping Safety

Ways to Keep Your Dog Safe When Camping

Dogs are part of the family and you want to keep your dog safe when camping and in the car.

Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know, have, and be ready for to help keep you and your dog safe. 

For the complete guide on camping with your dog, click here.

Dog Vaccinations

Dogs should be up to date on all their annual vaccinations before going camping.

In addition to your dog’s regular vaccinations, ask your vet to administer a Leptospirosis, or “lepto,” vaccination before camping.

Lepto is a bacterium found in the urine of animals and infection could be fatal to your dog. There are a lot of animals urinating in the wild, and there’s a better chance of your dog sniffing the wrong one when camping or hiking.

by Angelina Litvin


Mosquito bites are annoying to humans, but they could be deadly to your dog. These common camping nuisances can carry the Dirofilaria immitis parasite that leads to heartworm in dogs. Heartworm, if untreated, can be fatal.

Thankfully, heartworm is preventable with a monthly medication. Talk to your vet about which heartworm medication is best for your dog, then put that medication on autoship from

With’s auto ship you will have your dog’s medication delivered to your door at a cost lower than your vet’s office. Chewy will also handle the paperwork with your vet leaving you free to enjoy the outdoors.

Flea and Tick Prevention

Fleas and ticks are common in the outdoors and can latch onto dogs from other animals, or low-lying brush and grasses. Fleas, and ticks can also spread to humans causing painful bites and illnesses like Lyme disease. 

Thankfully, like heartworm, fleas and ticks can be prevented by giving your dog a monthly flea and tick treatment. Both and Amazon handle autoship for flea and tick medication.

You can save up to 30% off your first pet related subscribe and save from Amazon.

Image by Glenn Carstens

Research Vet and Animal Hospitals

From a hurt paw, to a battle with wildlife, the outdoors can bring the unknown. Emergencies may happen when camping with a dog and you may not be able to visit or call your home veterinarian quick enough. It is best to be prepared with proper information and first aid for your camping location.

Research the closest vet office and the closest 24-hour animal hospital to your campsite and save the information in your mobile device. Cell phone and Wi-Fi signal can be minimal near campgrounds and in remote locations, so make sure the information is accessible offline.

Have the dog’s medical records and vaccinations saved to a mobile device in case the local vet needs to review them. 

Dog Medical Insurance

Should a vet visit or emergency happen when you are camping, it can be nice to know you are protected and do not have to put a price on the best care for your dog.

Pet insurance is available at different income and coverage levels that may include just emergency visits, up to covering routine and preventative care like vaccinations and dental cleanings.

Dog Seat Belt

Everyone should practice seatbelt safety in the car, including your dog. 

Before hitting the road, get your dog a seatbelt connector. Most dog seatbelt connectors attach to the vehicles’ human seat belt and your dog’s harness to help keep Fido safe in a collision.

Dog gear for a safe camping trip.

Dog Collar and Tags

Your dog should have update tags with your contact information, and have your dog wear the tags at all times when camping. Updated tags and collar are legally required.

Additional rules and laws for camping with dogs.

Dog Harness

If you believe you may have to physically pull your dog back at any point in your trip, whether from wildlife or any dangers, have your dog wearing a harness with a handle.

Pulling on a dog’s collar can cause damage to the dog’s trachea and it doesn’t stop the momentum of the body. A harness will help you better control your dog should you need to step in.

Dog harnesses also offer you a larger area to grab than the thin area of a collar if you need to instinctively react.

Dog Tie Out

Most parks and campgrounds have a tie line length requirement for dogs. Having your dog on a tie line, also knowns as a tie out or dog anchor, is for the dog’s safety as well as the safety of other campers.

Keep your dog tethered to the tie line by their harness and anchor the line near you.

Night Light or Reflector

Dogs of all colors and sizes can be difficult to see in the wilderness at night. Pack a reflector harness or light for your dog when camping. The harness will help you see your pup, and ensure other campers and rivers will too.

Don’t assume your dog will be facing you or any approaching danger that may need to see him. Have a reflector or light that makes your dog visible from all angles.

Paw Protection

Dog paws are bare feet for your dog. While durable and tough, wet ground, cold or hot surfaces, and rough or rocky terrain are all walking surfaces that may cause damage to your dog’s paws.

Bring a pair of dog booties with you when you go camping and put them on your dog for any long walks or unfamiliar terrains that your dog may walk on.

Image by Bryan Padron

Wildlife- Small and Common

There is wildlife everywhere and though your dog is friendly and socialized, common critters may attack your dog out of fear. Common critters include snakes that may bite, skunks which may spray, and porcupines that may strike.

These types of encounters may ruin your camping trip and lead to unwanted vet visits.

Before you go camping with your dog, be familiar with how your dog may react if faced with the common wildlife in your camping area. Will your dog chase it, or generally leave it alone? How well would your dog’s recall command work in the scenario?

If you are camping with an anxious dog, common wildlife may spook them causing them to bark. Frequent barking can lead to fines or being removed from the campground.

Birds as Predators

Predators may come from the sky as well as land. Humans rarely think of birds as predators because bird are afraid of humans. However, large birds occasionally carry smaller and younger dogs off confusing them for a tasty meal.

If your dog is 15lbs or under, keep your dog on a tethered leash or tie line when outdoors, and reduce the dog’s exposure to open skies.  Dogs over 20lbs are not at risk of being carried off by birds because they are too heavy. Only a few species of birds in the world can lift dogs between 15-20lbs.

Camping with your small puppy? Check out the guide for camping with a puppy.

Large Wildlife

Don’t assume large wildlife will be afraid of your dog. Studies show coyotes and bears are not afraid of leashed dogs no matter how loud a dog barks.

If your dog is in danger, place the dog inside your vehicle or tent until the danger has passed.

Image by Charles Deluvio

Dogs & Weather

A dogs’ ability to feel comfortable in various temperatures will vary based on their breed and fur type. Shorter hair and wired hair dogs may fair better in warmer climates, but get cold in temps as high as 60 degrees. Long haired dogs may overheat in 80+ degree weather, but feel comfortable in winter camping.

To prevent overheating, consider bringing a buff for the dog, or decreasing heavy activity in hotter temperatures.

If a dog is sensitive to cool temps, bring them a jacket and paw protectors to help them retain their body heat and keep off cold surfaces.

In all cases, have a place for the dog to rest throughout the day. Aim for a resting mat or bed that is waterproof on the bottom and has the appropriate air circulation and cushion to either cool or warm up the dog based on their individual needs.

You can find weather specific dog gear here.

Image by Gaby Stein

Dog First Aid

Have a dog first aid kit with you for minor wound dressing and bug removal and familiarize yourself with how to use it.

Important first aid items include tweezers, tick remover, and nonstick gauze. Adhesive gauze can pull on your dog’s fur adding to their discomfort.

If necessary, be prepared to carry your dog to safety if they are injured away from the campground, like on a hiking trail, and are unable to walk back themselves.

Image by Marco Lopez

Water Activities with Dogs

Dog Lifejacket

If you plan on boating, or water activities during your camping trip, get your dog a life jacket. Before you head out, familiarize the dog with the jacket ahead of time so they feel safe and comfortable when wearing it.

If the dog panics while in a life jacket, they may not be the best companion for water activities.

Dogs that can swim should also wear life jackets when on boats. Currents, waves, and the distance from shore may impact how well a dog fares in the water. Just like with humans, swimming can be exhausting and a lifejacket may save the dog’s life.

Dog Towel

Dogs can get cold, dirty, and smelly when they are wet. If you plan on doing water activities, bring a towel designated for the dog.

For a complete list of dog camping gear by activity, go here.