What do you think of when summer arrives and the hot weather begins? Evenings out under the stars, a campfire and spending time with those you love (including a furry friend or two)? If that’s what you’re thinking, this list of dos and don’ts will make camping with dogs in summer easy, safe, and fun for everyone involved.
Here are the seven deadly sins – things to avoid – when camping with a dog in hot weather:
- Lack of protection from creepy crawlies
- Overheating and heat stroke
- Lack of medical supplies
- Dog nerves on the first sleep out in the wild
- The hangry dog
- Boredom (idle paws can be destructive)
- Getting separated from your dog because they ran off.
Whether young, old, in shape or a furry couch potato, avoiding these seven deadly sins will help you keep the fun level as high as a Jack Russell Terrier can jump and the danger level far lower than a good dock diving dog can swim!
Camping with your canine family members is supposed to be fun, so it’s worth the extra time to prepare. When you do it right, you’ll enjoy memories with your best friends, and look forward to the next time you’re out on the trail together. Read on and avoid these potentially deadly risks.
1. Lack of Protection From Creepy Crawlies
Are you aware of the risks taken when your dog starts drinking from that stream or rolling in that smelly pile of who knows what he just discovered?
Unfortunately, there are no sick days on a hike, for you or your dog!
Your best bet is to make sure your dog is healthy before you go on the hike. That way everyone can enjoy your next outdoor adventure.
Check with your veterinarian. Are the following health issues are a concern? Has your dog had the right injections to make sure he/she has the most complete protection available?
This may already be part of your dog’s annual regime of shots.
Bacterial infection, Leptospirosis is in many areas of the U.S. Imagine all the fun things dogs can get up to camping in hot weather. There’s rolling in or playing with dead things, jumping into random ponds and streams and in general, doing what dogs love to do. Your dog may be at risk from Leptospirosis and could benefit from an injection.
Leptospirosis can result in muscle tenderness, nausea and vomiting, kidney and liver disease and other more serious symptoms.
Leptospirosis is also a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be passed on to humans. All the more reason to consider getting the shot added to your dog’s arsenal.
While not usually as serious for dogs as it is for humans, achy joints, fever, and a risk of kidney disease aren’t to be taken lightly.
Prevention is better than cure
Check with your veterinarian to see if a Lyme prevention shot is appropriate for your dog. If they agree, this form of prevention requires an initial shot, a booster a few weeks later and then an annual booster.
In addition to a needle, your dog can also have repellants on their fur.
For low riders and small dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors, this prevention shot may be the right thing even if your hiking is just local.
If you’re going to be out wandering wooded and brushy areas with high grass, this shot may be the added protection needed.
Ticks don’t take a holiday
Adult ticks are active in the colder months and the nymphs feed during the Spring and Summer months. So if your dog receives their tick repellant or the prevention shot, it should last for the whole year not just when you are camping in hot weather.
Just in case your dog hasn’t received their prevention treatment, always pack a tick remover set. These sets are not normally included in a pet first aid kit, so I recommend the inexpensive Tick Twister Tick Remover Set.
End of day checks when camping
Tick-borne diseases extend beyond Lyme disease.
Staying up to date with tick and flea repellant and checking your dog for unwanted passengers at day’s end is your best combined defense.
A quick combing or full pat down and inspection at the end of a day on the trail will help you spot any ticks that may have decided to take a ride.
For heavy-coated dogs, it might be helpful to keep a brush handy and do a daily brush out at day’s end.
What do you do if you spot a tick?
Remove it immediately! Here’s how.
Giardia (be careful of streams, ponds, and lakes)
There’s no preventive treatment for Giardia.
That means understanding the effects of this parasitic infection (vomiting, fever, gas, and more), will result in you doing all you can to prevent your dog from drinking from random streams, ponds and lakes.
This infection is also zoonotic (can be passed on to humans. Make sure to carry clean, fresh water to share with your furry hiking companion, even in cooler weather, to avoid bringing home unwanted parasites.
And don’t forget to refill bottles with fresh water whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Yes, you probably use standard flea and tick repellent, but what about mosquitoes?
Using a DEET based insect repellent may keep the bugs away, but can also have a negative impact on your dog’s central nervous system.
Why not consider a natural repellent? Numerous sites have DIY recipes that include lemon eucalyptus oil, combined with a carrier oil: almond oil, coconut oil, and a number of other options.
The lemon eucalyptus is the magic ingredient. Mix your ingredients, even throwing in a few drops of vanilla for added scent. Then fill a few small spray bottles and throw them in your backpack. Reapply as needed. They’ll keep the bugs away, and they’re even safe for you to use!
2. Overheating and Heatstroke
A panting dog can look like the happiest member of your party, but this could disguise overheating and even heatstroke.
When you are camping with a dog in hot weather, don’t forget these important things.
Access to water
Use water to hydrate your dog, especially on hot days or after exercising.
Offer water regularly on hikes, and make sure to keep a full bowl available whenever you stop to set up camp.
There are 2 ways to offer water to your dogs when camping.
1. Use a collapsible water bowl
Packable bowls, for water and food, is an easy thing to throw in a backpack or in your dog’s panniers or day pack. This collapsible silicone bowl attached to your dog’s collar which is really convenient.
There are some great day packs out there for dogs, that allows him or her to carry snacks, lightweight foldable bowls, and even a small bottle of water. Just make sure to let them practice carrying them with some weight in them so they don’t suddenly refuse to budge when you’re out on the trail.
2. Use a travel mug for dogs
Camping for a few days? If you’re driving, consider packing an Auto Dog Mug! That’s right, a travel mug for dogs.
It includes a bottle, with an attached bowl at the top that can be filled for drinking in the car. This can also be used as a portable bowl on a hike.
Don’t forget to refill bottles whenever fresh water is available.
A shady spot
Just like you, dogs need to find a shady spot to take a break and enjoy a good long drink (not from the nearest stream).
It’s their best bet for a quick recovery and getting back on the trail.
Rest and recover
Taking the time to rest at regular intervals gives you a chance to rest too.
Why not use the time to check your dog’s feet to make sure blisters aren’t starting?
A 10-minute break on a trail can get everyone rested and ready for the next leg of the journey, especially if it’s hot and your dog isn’t one to stop willingly.
Keep their bodies cool
If you are camping by the beach or near a lake or river where it’s safe to swim, take your dog for a swim as a natural way to cool their bodies down.
If swimming is not possible, there are some other ways to cool down their bodies in hot weather.
Use a cooling towel
Some pet supply stores also sell cooling towels, they provide a cooling effect when wet. It’s a great way to keep bottled water cool, and to cool down your doggy friend and yourself if you’ve been out on the trail in the hot sun for a while.
Use a cooling jacket
Ruffwear makes a 2 functions in 1 jacket that provides both sun protection and evaporative cooling. It’s a great way to easily cool down your dog – no getting a towel and wetting it; no need to apply sunscreen separately.
3. Lack of Medical Supplies
Even the heartiest of dogs can get a blister, a cut, a torn nail, or another injury after a long day walking rocky trails, jumping over logs and wandering through the woods. If yours is a tiny dog, carrying them may be an option. With most dogs, however, it’s better to be prepared and have medical supplies to assist if your dog is injured.
Here is a list of items to bring that will keep your dog comfortable and help you take action if an injury occurs.
Moisturizer for dog paws
Human moisturizer isn’t ideal for your dog’s pads. It can make them too soft. If they like to lick their feet, it can also result in your dog ingesting chemicals that aren’t meant to be eaten.
If your dog’s paws become dried out and cracked, use coconut oil to moisturize them. A puppy pedicure is a nice treat for them after a long hike or any time if your dog is comfortable having his feet touched.
I’ve found that storing coconut oil when camping is a bit of a hassle. No matter what I do, the lid to the bottle always comes off and makes a mess even though I keep in a zip lock bag.
An easier solution to coconut oil is to get some Mushers Secret and apply this balm to your dog paw. You will have no-more spills but I would store the balm container ins a zip lock back.
Clip those nails
Long nails can get caught and torn off causing pain and bleeding. That can mean the end to an otherwise fun day out.
Get your dog’s nails clipped before you go camping. Have this done professionally if you’re unable to do it yourself. But make sure your hiking companion isn’t running the risk of a torn dew claw or other nail on a hike in the woods.
Don’t forget gauze and anti-bacterial soap
If a blister or sensitive spot appears, make sure to wash it with antibacterial soap and then wrap it lightly with gauze.
Check your dog’s pads throughout your hike to make sure they’re not developing blisters. Some dogs will walk for miles without a whimper, but when you settle down for the evening you’ll notice them limping or licking their feet.
Keeping an eye on them throughout the day is the best way to avoid sore feet and the possibility of a carry out ending your camping or hiking trip. Catching a sore spot early can mean you’ll be able to treat it and continue your hike.
Anti-bacterial wipes and gauze pads are included in this first aid kit that you take with you camping.
4. Dog nerves on the first sleep out in the wild
Is this the first time you are camping with a dog in hot weather?
Have you introduced them to your tent or camper?
Or are you looking to sleep out under the stars?
You may want a dry run before the “big event.”
There are steps you can take to ensure your dog is not a nervous bundle in the wild with all those strange and unfamiliar smells and sounds.
Some dogs get very nervous with all those strange and unfamiliar smells and sounds.
There are nocturnal animals.
Strangers may walk by or into your site.
And let’s not forget that warm weather means the chance of a stray thunderstorm.
It’s a whole new experience for your pooch.
Consider the following items to keep your dog comfortable and help with falling asleep.
A dog-friendly campground
If you’re staying at a campground, make certain they allow dogs. Trying to sneak your dog in is definitely not a good idea.
And a dog barking in a campground that doesn’t allow dogs is just an unhappy ending all around.
Don’t be that kind of dog owner.
A dog bed or tent
In this article, Where will your dog sleep? , we explore in great detail what options you have.
Whether it’s a folded blanket or towel, a true dog bed or a blow-up mattress, having a place for them to call their own is going to help them get settled for the night.
If your dog is accustomed to sleeping in a crate, they will no doubt be fine sleeping in a tent, but sleeping out under the stars may be a bigger challenge.
Don’t expect miracles.
Do a practice run first to at least get them familiar with the idea of where they will be sleeping – dog bed under the stars or dog tent.
A sleep aid
Some dogs have a tough time settling down when camping.
If yours is an older dog, or a dog who has anxiety, using melatonin to assist them in naturally transitioning to sleep can be a good idea.
Check with your veterinarian first, but melatonin can assist in both of you getting a good night’s sleep.
A thunder shirt
This type of garment can help during a thunderstorm but is also just a general comfort for many dogs.
In hot weather, wait until the cool of the evening to put it on, but if your dog wears one at home and finds comfort with it, consider packing it for the trip.
My recommendation is the ThunderShirt Sport Dog Anxiety Jacket.
5. Hangry Dogs Aren’t Welcome
I bet all that fresh air makes you so hungry. Your dog is the same. And if your dog is running a hot day, they will burn extra calories. Come prepared.
Make sure to bring plenty of snacks, and quality high protein food for the trip. Snacks that are easy to pack include beef jerky (for dogs) and dry kibble type snacks and some dried vegetables. Dry food is also easy to pack and lightweight to carry.
You may also want to consider the following tips to keep mealtime a happy time for both of you.
Tip #1 Feed at the end of the day
Some dogs won’t eat when they’re hot.
They may be more inclined to eat in a shady spot with you sitting nearby enjoying a meal with them.
Let your dog lead the way when it comes to mealtime, but make sure they eat.
Tip #2 Avoid fatty foods
Most dogs will not want to eat heavy, fatty food when it’s hot.
Have you noticed whether your dog has an appetite change in summer?
They may eat less and may need less.
But remember, a dog’s diet shouldn’t be changed suddenly.
If you are planning to go camping with a dog in hot weather, introduce them to their new food ahead of time. Then slowly increase the amount of the new diet so that on the trail they won’t get sick or have other issues.
Tip #3 Daytrip foods
For a day trip, consider hard boiled eggs, yogurt treats, and low-fat meats including beef, non-fatty fish, and organ meats.
These are harder to come by in a fresh form that will hold up on a trail, but keeping protein and fat levels in mind will help your dog feel great even in hot weather on a long hike.
Here’s a recipe for doggie granola bars from the YouTube channel “Gone To The Snow Dogs” (for all you Husky dog lovers out there).
As fresh food may be less of an ideal option when camping with a dog in hot weather, try these packaged options.
|Daytrip foods for your dog
|Brand and model
|Freeze-dried kibble (lightest option to carry, choice #1)
|Stella and Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Dog Food
|Freeze-dried kibble (lightest option to carry, choice #2)
|Vital Essentials Grain Free
|Dehydrated kibble (next lightest option to carry)
|Honest Kitchen Human Grade
|Snack – Biscuits
|Blue Dog Bakery Natural Dog Treats
|Snack – Treat (small pieces that can be kept in your pocket)
|Zuke’s Mini Naturals
|Snack – Treat (strips of meat)
|Spot Farms All Natural Human Grade Chicken Strips
|Snack – Energy bars
|Zuke’s Power Bones
|Snack – Jerky
|Brutus and Barnaby Chicken Jerky
|Food storage (dry sacks for loose dog food and treats)
|Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack
6. Idle Paws Can Be Destructive
If you know your dog needs stimulation, then bring enough toys and organize enough exercise and playtime.
When camping at night, a great dog is a tired dog!
Playing with your dog is a great way to increase the level of bonding that occurs when you’re both enjoying the great outdoors.
Simple toys can be the best
Bring along a simple canvas disc to play catch, a ball to chase, or a treat puzzle to keep him busy while you get the campsite setup. It’ll keep everyone happy.
Have chew toys available for evenings by the campfire.
Your dog may be the type to just settle down and fall asleep, or they may be overtired from a busy day and have a difficult time settling down.
Consider chew toys that will last a few days at least, to give them something to soothe themselves with while you relax by the fire.
If you’re going to be near water, why not bring a few floating retrievable toys?
Most dogs don’t need a reason to jump in the water, but a good game of soggy fetch is a quick way to cool down at the end of a day. Don’t forget if you are camping by the beach and your dog loves to swim in deep water, make sure he/she is wearing a lifevest.
What are the best toys to bring camping?
Check out our extensive selection of 17 of the best outdoor toys you can bring camping.
What if your dog isn’t entertained by toys? We’ve got you covered. Here are some ideas in this article to keep them entertained when camping with a dog in hot weather.
7. Getting Separated From Your Dog Because They Run Off
This is everyone’s nightmare.
A beautiful sunny day, a sudden noise or incredible scent on the wind and your dog is off and running and may get separated from you permanently.
If your dog has perfect recall, don’t rely on this in the wilderness.
Off-leash is the preference of many dog owners, but when camping, or trail and off-trail hiking, it’s best to have even well-behaved dogs wear a collar or harness, and tags.
And, you should at least carry a 6 – 8 foot leash, ready to put it on your dog if the activity makes it seem that running off is a risk. I recommend the Ruffwear Crag leash, which goes up to 6 feet (the National Parks requirement).
If your dog does not have good recall, don’t let them off leash. It only takes a moment for them to get distracted, and they can disappear.
Some other ways to keep them safe.
If you own a dog, you should have it micro-chipped and if you move, update the information.
If a dog is found, most agencies will check for a chip and you have an increased chance of getting your dog back.
A lighted collar
This helps you to see your dog at night.
Even with the best of intentions, some dogs get out, and if they’re wearing a light at night you’ll be able to spot them at quite a distance.
If you’re hiking in wooded areas, consider putting an orange vest on your dog. Even on a leash, they can be mistaken for a deer or other animal being hunted, and be injured or worse. Consider wearing an orange vest yourself if spending time outdoors during hunting seasons.
An ID tag
Small canvas or leather tag holders are a great way to have your dog carry your name, phone number, and email address. Another simple way to increase the chances of getting your dog back if he or she runs off.
GPS Tracker device
There are numerous trackers out there that can provide you with a signal to locate your dog if they’ve suddenly wandered off and you can’t locate them. With the help of your smartphone, you can quickly get reunited.
Never leave your dog in a tent when camping either.
What To Take When Camping With a Dog In Hot Weather
When spending time outdoors with your dog during hot weather, give consideration to how long you’ll be out, where you’ll be staying and the general health of your dog. In most cases, their needs are the same:
For day trips with your dog consider taking
- Bottled water
- Collapsible bowls
- Blanket or towel
- Balls, frisbees and other favorite toys
- Leash (6 to 8 feet long per National Park requirements)
- Waste bags
- Baby wipes.
For overnight camping trips with your dog you should consider:
- Emergency first-aid kit
- Bottled water
- DIY bug spray
- Sleep aid (if needed)
- Coconut oil
- Antibacterial soap
- Extra leash and collar
- Waste Bags.
Want Even More Tips?
Now you know the seven deadly sins for camping with a dog in hot weather, you can avoid some serious life-threatening situations. If you want the perfect campaign trip with your dog, be sure to read our incredibly helpful guide: our 57 camping tips.
Should I take my older dog hiking in hot weather?
It really depends on your dog. Some breeds, do not do well in hot weather: Boxers, Bulldogs, Cavalier Spaniels, Akitas, and Pugs have extra difficulty breathing in hot weather. Some older dogs also have trouble breathing and cooling themselves down. If your dog is not accustomed to long hikes, check with your vet and then give your dog time to build up stamina by taking shorter hikes regularly before taking a long hike or heading out for a weekend of exploring trails and camping, especially in hot weather.
How much weight can my dog carry when it’s hot?
10% – 12% of their total body weight is a good guide. Fitting them for a daypack or panniers, and getting them accustomed to carrying it ahead of time will ensure an easier time on the trail.
Is it okay to take puppies camping in hot weather?
Similar to older dogs, puppies can have a difficult time cooling down if they become overheated. It’s better to restrict puppies to day trips until they are old enough to follow commands and understand that no means no.
Will small dogs enjoy camping?
Most dogs enjoy spending time with their people. But if your small dog is a lap dog and doesn’t like to spend much time walking, taking them camping isn’t really a good idea. If they are an independent spirit and have fun exploring, a camping trip may be the perfect option to spend time together and share an experience that will bring you closer together.
Where To From Here?
Well, my first choice would be a camping location with a lake where my dog and I could swim in to cool down after a day of hiking and then camping in hot weather!
If you are looking for your next canine camping adventure, we’ve got you covered with our epically detailed guides for camping, hiking, and backpacking.
- Off leash trails in Colorado
- Grand Lake Colorado
- Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee
- National Parks in the U.S.
Take a look at the biggest and best list of gear for when you next go camping with your dog.