When the sun is shining, there’s nothing like spending a few days camping with loved ones, including your beloved pet dog of course.

But, if you’re camping with dogs you’ll need to make sure you’ve got everything you need and that they can be happy and comfortable while exploring.

If you’re a beginner when it comes to camping with your dog, don’t worry as the PDSA has shared a handy guide to help you out.

Beginners guide to camping with your dog – PDSA vet shares tips

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing has shared some advice so you can enjoy the great outdoors with your furry friend by your side.

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Pick the right place

Nina said: “Before thinking about activities and packing lists, you must carefully consider where your outdoor adventure will take place. Luckily, the UK has many dog-friendly camping and caravan sites, so you’ll be spoiled for choice.

When choosing where to go, think about the answers to these questions:

  • How far away is it from where you live? Can your dog cope with the journey? 
  • Are there lots of dog-friendly walks and activities nearby? 
  • What on-site facilities are available for people and dogs? 
  • Are there places on-site to safely dispose of your dog’s poo? 
  • Are there any places on-site where your dog wouldn’t be allowed? 
  • Is there anywhere you can safely let your dog play off-lead? 
  • If you plan to eat out, are there dog-friendly restaurants and pubs nearby? 
  • What kind of activities do you and your dog enjoy? Do you prefer spending days on the beach or hiking routes? 
  • Have you got adequate insurance to cover third-party incidences? Some campsites may insist on you having it. Insurance is also important to cover vet fees in the case of accident, injury or illness.

It's important that pet owners are prepared for taking their dog camping with themIt's important that pet owners are prepared for taking their dog camping with them (Image: Getty)

Work with the weather

Cars, vans, tents and caravans can all heat up quickly to dangerous levels on the hotter days which can lead to heatstroke so make sure your dog is not left alone inside a vehicle, tent or caravan.

Before you leave for your holiday, make sure you check the weather forecast for your destination.

Nina said: “If temperatures are soaring, take a rain check and rearrange your trip during a more suitable spell of weather. If temperatures catch you out and do get high, walking your dog when it’s cooler in the early morning/evening is best.

“But it’s important to remember that caravans and tents cannot give your dog the protection they need from the heat during the hottest parts of the day, so you will need to find somewhere safe for your dog to stay cool.

"On the hottest days, it is best to avoid walking them altogether, instead they’ll need somewhere they can shelter. That might mean rearranging your hike or trip to the beach for a cooler day, but pet safety has to come first. 

“On the other hand, camping in constant rain is no fun either… especially when it comes to managing those muddy paws!”

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Useful items for camping with your dog:

  • Collapsible bowl and water bottle so your dog can have clean water to stay hydrated while walking. 
  • If your dog doesn’t cope well in the wet, you could pack a waterproof, breathable coat to keep the worst of the rain off.
  • A towel (or two) to clean and dry them after a rain shower or muddy activity. 
  • Comfy blankets to keep them warm during colder nights. 
  • A form of shelter with a roof and a bed that raises them off the ground to give your dog a break from the weather and for when the weather is warm and the sun does come out.
  • Set up a relaxing spot under trees where it's breezy enough for them to stay cool and comfortable - remember the sun moves around throughout the day, so you’ll need to be sure you can keep them in shade all day long, you might need to provide multiple shaded areas. 
  • Cooling mats and collars can be really useful for keeping your dog cool.

You can find lots of essentials for your dog via the PDSA's pet store online.

Master your dog’s packing list

While you might be thinking about packing your favourite outfits, your dog will also need some essentials for the trip.

Nina said: “Your dog’s packing list is just as important as your own. When you go camping with your dog, you might need some extra things compared to staying in a hotel or holiday cottage.

Make sure to take enough dog food to last the entire length of your trip – pre-weighing how much they’ll need and storing it in an airtight container might be best.

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Remember food and water bowls plus some treats to keep them occupied and to reward their good behaviour. Nina adds that this should be in moderation.

Take a dog first aid kit, including a tick remover tool, with you plus any medication they need for the length of the trip.

Pack some relaxants or anxiety relief products if they might need them, for example, for car journeys.

Other essentials include:

  • Plenty of poo bags
  • A waterproof bed that you can easily remove dirt and mud from. 
  • Some of their dog toys to keep them entertained and offer a sense of comfort. 
  • A reflective or flashing collar, lead or harness for your dog to stay visible at night. 
  • If your dog is familiar with one, a tether can be a good addition. Especially if there's a chance they could take off at the first whiff of a BBQ.

Practice before you go

Nina added: “If your dog has never gone camping, or it's been a while since you last went together, you might need to give them time to get used to it. 

“If you can, pitch your tent in the garden and allow your dog to get used to it well before your trip. Remember to reward them when they choose to go inside (you may need to use a bit of edible persuasion in the form of their favourite treat!). 

“Once they’re comfortable inside the tent, try setting it up as you would for camping with any roll mats, sleeping bags, or other equipment. Again, let them get used to this and make them a nice comfy bed inside that will be theirs. Scatter some treats in their bed to reward them for getting in and spending time there. 

“Once they’re happy, try spending a night in your tent. It may sound silly, but it will help your dog feel more comfortable with their surroundings.” 

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Make sure your dog always wears a collar and ID tag with your contact details and contact the microchip database to check that your dog's information is correct before going away. 

In case of an emergency accident or illness, save the contact number for a vet local to where you'll be staying in your phone. 

Locate your nearest vet and pet shop. This way, you’ll know where to go for advice and if you need to buy or replace something for your pet while you're away.