Last Updated on August 10, 2022
The Top 10 Things That You Need To Consider When Traveling In The Great Outdoors With Your Family Pet
Traveling with our pets is one of the great pleasures of offroading, overlanding, or camping. However, we must consider and plan for their needs on the journey. The lives of our pets are in our hands, and it is our responsibility to take care of them the best we can. Below you’ll find our top considerations to make when bringing your beloved pets out into the wild. We will cover everything from specialized care to basic needs such as food and shelter.
1. Emergency First Aid Kit
Our pets are part of the family and ensuring they are taken care of in the event of injury is paramount. This is where establishing and maintaining a fully stocked pet emergency first aid kit is vital. There are varying levels of premade pet first aid kits available to suit everyone’s needs.
The GunDog Outdoors Field Trauma Aid Kit is an excellent place to start, and we’ve listed some additional items below that you may want to consider as well:
- Medical Grade Staple Gun and Staples
- Thick cutproof gloves
- Pet Sling
- Blood Clotting Bandages
- Snakebite kit
The medical-grade staple gun is used to close gashes and wounds that stitches may not handle quickly enough. Ensure to wrap any large wounds in blood clotting bandages as well. Our furry friends don’t clot as fast as we do, and when out in the backcountry, preparation is key for their survival in a situation where they can bleed out.
While our pets are our buddies, remember that in times of pain or crisis, they can show fear or become aggressive and may bite. This is solely instinct and nothing personal against their owner. That’s where the cutproof gloves and muzzle come in.
Once muzzled and the wound attended to, the sling can be utilized to carry them out of a scenario where they are not able to walk on their own.
You might consider whether you are prepared to use these items to administer first aid should your pet need them. If you feel that you may not have the skills required, there are online pet first aid courses available through American Red Cross.
2. Food, Water, & Storage
Remember that you must not only feed and hydrate yourself but your four-legged pal too. Pack enough of their food for each day that you would normally feed, plus a day or two extra.
Water is extremely heavy, so you may think about a LifeSaver Jerrycan to gather water while out in the backcountry. In general, dogs should drink approximately 1 ounce of water (1/8th cup) per pound of body weight each day. When packing for pups, there are compact food storage bags available that are the perfect space-saving solution.
3. Sleeping Arrangements
This is solely preference, but you should consider where and how your pet will be sleeping. Will they sleep with you in the tent? Will they have an annex to your tent to sleep in? A great option is a travel sleep pad because of its portability and waterproof design. Also, you’ll want to consider where these things will be stored when not in use.
4. Weather Preparedness
Always be prepared for any weather conditions. This applies to both extreme heat and cold temperatures, as there are special considerations for each.
You may need shoes for your dog’s pads in the hotter temperatures. The heat can cause blisters on tender pads in seconds.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you may need a puffer coat when you’re headed into snow or freezing areas if they aren’t a breed made for the cold. If your pet has short hair or is normally temperature-sensitive, blankets would also be an excellent item to have on hand.
5. Check If Pets Are Allowed
Nothing is more frustrating than finally getting to your highly-anticipated destination, only to find out your four-legged family member is not allowed.
Some national forests and parks have not even allowed animals to stay in your vehicle while on-premises. Others may allow pets, but they must be leashed at all times. Be sure to do your due diligence to ensure you are following all legal guidelines and restrictions before leaving.
Be sure to check out this list of seven national parks that are dog friendly.
6. Waste Cleanup
It is inevitable that your pet will need to relieve themself. Be sure to pack enough pet waste bags and be cognizant of where to properly dispose of them. Sometimes, a separate garbage bag tucked next to the regular trash helps.
As part of your preparation for pet waste, keep in mind that small changes to a pet’s environment can lead to loose stool. There are over-the-counter medications that you can purchase to include in your emergency first aid kit, or you can simply use plain canned pumpkin with their food to help get their bowel movements back to normal.
7. Wildlife Awareness
One of the leading ways a bear attacks a human is by their dog leading it back to the campsite. The dog goes out to explore and comes across a bear, the bear engages, and the dog runs to its pack for safety, which is you. Keeping your furry friend in sight, and possibly on a cable tie-out, is a good way to keep this type of scenario from happening.
However, bears aren’t the only thing that you need to worry about. Know the area you are visiting and what kind of wildlife lives there. You need to be aware of the kind of creatures that you may encounter, or your dog may bring back. Common wildlife including coyotes, badgers, wolves, skunks, and cougars are all unwelcome guests at the campfire.
Just in case your pet runs into Pepé Le Pew, here is the best way to eliminate the skunk’s scent oil from your pet.
How much exercise does your dog need? If you are on a regimen, will your dog get the same amount while out on the road? Remember, a tired dog is a good dog. Consider packing toys and games to play with your pup. Tug toys are a great exercise for them and strengthen the bond between you two.
Here is a suggestion for a tug toy, aptly titled “The Perfect Dog Toy“.
9. Safety Requirements
Often overlooked, pet seatbelts and harnesses have saved many a pet’s life during accidents, both on and off-road. Us humans are required to wear these for safety, so it only makes sense that our pets should as well.
Leashes and tie-outs also keep our pets safe by containing them within a general area, so they aren’t running off and finding trouble. This tie-out system is a great option that provides a tangle-free experience in keeping your pet restrained.
10. Vaccination Requirements & Considerations
As responsible pet owners, we must keep them up to date with their shots. If you don’t already, you should keep a record on hand for both your own knowledge or if they’re asked for. When traveling to another state, it’s always a good idea to ensure you have at least their rabies paperwork on hand. However, the entire vaccination record is best.
A shot that is not required but is still a good consideration for our pets is the leptospirosis vaccine.
This vaccine protects our pets from the bacteria Leptospira that lives in puddles, streams, and waterways. Leptospirosis can be a very dangerous disease, causing serious damage to the kidneys and liver, and is occasionally linked to severe lung disease and difficulty breathing.
Leptospirosis is also transmissible to humans and other pets.
For more information on Leptospirosis: Check here
A final consideration is a good flea and tick prevention regimen. Prevention is key with numerous flea and tick-borne illnesses that plague our unprotected pets, as curing them after the fact is a much more difficult process. There are many variations for pest control on the market that are effective and safe, ranging from over-the-counter to prescription. Check with your veterinarian for recommendations specific to your pet’s needs.
In my family, our pets are our children. We love to have them with us on every mile, on every road, and on every adventure.
Being prepared is imperative for a backcountry adventure lifestyle. There won’t always be a store to run to for essential items. Creating a checklist is a proven way to ensure we have everything needed for both ourselves and our four-legged children.
I hope this has shed some light on key considerations to make while traveling with pets. Keep them safe, keep them with you, and we will see you in the backcountry!