Vet gives tips for camping, hiking with your dog

By JESSICA WELSHANS

For The Express

It isn’t unusual to see someone out hiking with their dog these days, since a well-behaved and trained dog makes a wonderful hiking companion.

That type of outdoor recreation isn’t the only thing people are bringing their dogs along to — more people are camping with their dogs. That’s camping in everything from a tent to an RV or t railer camper.

Pennsylvania State parks and forests are open to those with canines. There are some rules and regulations that must be followed, so see the park rules for things like leashing, areas where pets are allowed, and so on.

Most state park campgrounds have areas where campers can have their pets, and some parks are even allowing them in cabins.

Dr. Danielle Bernal, veterinarian with Wellness Natural Pet Food, offers some helpful tips and things to remember if you plan on hiking or camping with a canine friend.

When looking to go out, do your homework, she said.

“First and foremost, make sure you pick a campsite where dogs are permitted and ask about their onsite facilities,” she said.

Most campgrounds will indicate if pets are welcomed on not, but be sure to check before you arrive or make reservations.

She also offered other things to ask about or research: “Is there a dog bathing area where they can cool off? Can the dogs go off the leash while out on the trails, or are pets only welcome if they are restrained? Once your research is done, don’t forget to book well in advance to ensure no unwelcome surprises.”

Take a trip to the vet before you go. Some campgrounds in this state, and out of state, require up-to-date vaccinations and proof they are just that.

“If you are going outside of your home state, or your pup is due for vaccinations, make sure you visit your vet prior to the trip,” Bernal said. “Check that all of their vaccinations and worming treatments are up to date, and most importantly, make sure that the details for their microchip are all accurate, just in case you get separated at any stage.”

Dog owners need to remember they will likely have other humans, and even pets around them, so it’s imperative their dogs are well behaved. Bernal suggest practicing some of their training.

“Leading up to the trip, don’t forget to start practicing good campsite etiquette. Whether running out on trails or living in a campground with other campers who may not be as comfortable around dogs, you will want to ensure that your dog comes when called to help keep them out of danger,” she said.

When hiking, Bernal said, make sure the dog knows when to “leave it” should there be wildlife or anything dangerous encountered on the trail.

While you pack for yourself, remember to pack properly for your pup.

Bernal said taking the right gear is essential, as nature can be unpredictable and so too can dogs, especially if you are hiking.

“While you want to pack light, you also need to be prepared for anything. As the weather starts to warm up, don’t forget that dogs can’t cope with the heat as well as we do, so find some shady rest stops, pack a portable water bowl and ensure you have plenty of fresh bottled water to keep them hydrated,” she said.

Pack the food they are eating at home. Bernal recommended a four-pound bag of a protein-rich food. Make sure to pack treats, too.

“Don’t forget a sleeping bag and blanket to keep your pooch cozy at night, reflective leash/collar, clip-on flashing light and a first aid kit to cover any potential injures or upsets that may occur,” she said.

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