Camping adventures: Keeping your pets safe and happy in the great outdoors - BC SPCA
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Camping adventures: Keeping your pets safe and happy in the great outdoors

June 23, 2023

Summer is the season for camping! It’s a cost-effective and fun way to enjoy the great outdoors and connect with your friends and family, and of course your pets. If you’re thinking of camping with your dog or cat, here are some important safety tips to keep in mind.

Before you go

  • Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date for flea, tick and heartworm prevention. 
  • Ensure that your pet is microchipped, has a collar with tags and is registered with the BC Pet Registry in case they venture off on their own and get lost. 
  • Familiarize your pet with your RV and/or tent. If your schedule permits, you might want to introduce your RV and/or tent to your pet to help them feel more secure with their temporary new home. Maybe pitch the tent in the backyard for a weekend, or let them sniff out the RV for a few days before your trip.  
  • Schedule a pet-friendly route. Make sure the route you’re taking to your camping site permits frequent stops for bathroom breaks, and to have a quick snack and stretch.  
  • Bring their favourite toys and blankets. Make the experience fun and comfortable for your pet by taking their favourite toys and blankets along with them so they feel like they’re home away from home. Need help remembering what to bring? Check out our Pet Travel Checklist!

Portrait of brown short hair Chihuahua dog sitting in an orange camping tent on green grass, outdoors, looking at camera.

Once you arrive

  • Keep pets on a leash at all times on marked trails. If you’re thinking of taking your cat outside they should be leash-trained and comfortable wearing a harness, along with their age and fitness also being taken into account. 
  • Provide plenty of shade and water: Your pet most likely isn’t used to spending all day outside in the summer. As you set up, and for the duration of your trip, provide plenty of opportunities for your pet to cool down in the shade or by going for a quick swim in the lake.  
  • Never leave your pet unattended, especially in a hot tent or car. When camping with your pet, it’s important to watch him or her at all times.  
  • Consider bringing a crate. If your dog is crate-trained, consider bringing it along may help them feel more comfortable in addition to help ensure their safety.  

cat camping with family on beach

Setting up the site

  • Remember to be bear aware to keep both you and your pet safe while camping as hungry bears emerge from their dens in the spring with their cubs. 
  • Seal away human and pet food or storing them out of reach. This will help prevent wild animals, including bears, to stay away. You might want to use bear-safe food storage lockers and if there aren’t any available hang food by a rope about 10 feet off the ground and several feet away from the nearest tree.
  • Use the same methods to store other smelly items that can attract bears, such as toiletries, garbage, dirty camping stoves and recyclables. Items such as soap, deodorant and bug spray can also be kept inside your vehicle. 

woman hiking outside with dog

Potential pet hazards

  • Keep your pet away from the campfire: Even the tiniest spark can become a potentially big emergency. Keep them a safe distance from the fire pit and always keep fire safety equipment nearby. 
  • Never let your pet drink from streams or ponds as these sources can contain infection-causing bacteria. Carry enough water on your person for both you and your pet. 
  • Certain types of plants are toxic to cats and dogs. It’s a good idea to read up on which ones are harmful for your pet before venturing outside. 
  • Check for ticks after spending time outside with your pet and if you see one remove it immediately. Be sure to look between the toes, around the tail, under the front legs, around the eyelids and in and around the ears and under the collar. 

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