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March 19, 2011

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(Maya wearing her dog back pack while camping/hiking)

It’s almost spring and time for vacationing again.  Spring Break is coming up too, so what will you do?  One popular vacationing pastime it is to go camping.  Camping is fun for your entire family.  Whether you stay in a cabin, motor home, or tent, there is nothing like exploring the great outdoors.  If your camping trip includes bringing your family dog, don’t forget some important pet safety tips.

Identification
Anytime you travel with your dog, make sure he is wearing his identification tags.  Make sure the tags are secure on his collar and that his collar is in good shape and not likely to break or come off.  Also consider having your pet microchipped.  We have heard some great news stories about lost dogs getting back home again thanks to microchipping.

Leash
Whenever you travel with your dog to a new place, make sure he is always on a leash.  A dog in a new environment could easily wander off and get lost.  Or something could frighten him and he could run off.  It’s tempting to let your dog explore the great outdoors, but getting lost is just one of the many dangers when camping with your dog.

Wild Animals
Encountering wild animals is more likely when camping with your dog.  If your dog is not on a leash, he may encounter dangerous wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, or snakes, just to name a few.  Raccoons can vicious when cornered and also carry diseases.  Skunks, of course, can spray and ruin everyone’s vacation.  Snakes could be venomous.

Harmful Plants
Watch out for harmful plants as well.  Know which plants can be harmful and keep yourself and your dog away from them.  Harmful plant can include poison oak, poison ivy, briar and other thorned plants.  Other plants could be harmful if eaten.  Most dogs probably won’t eat plants, but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.

Insects
Your dog is probably more likely to encounter fleas and ticks in the wilderness than at home.  Have him treated with a flea and tick product like Advantix or Frontline.  Flea collars don’t work very well, especially if your dog encounters a highly infested area.  Mosquitos could be another problem.  Mosquitos can transmit heartworms.  If your dog is not on a heartworm preventative, then find a pet safe mosquito repellant.  It is very important that you find a mosquito repellant that is specifically safe for pets.  Repellant which is okay for people may not be okay for pets.  Check your local pet store rather than a general merchandise store.

Fire Safety
Keep your dog away from the camp fire and barbeque pit.  It will probably be easy to keep your dog away from a campfire as dogs are generally instinctively cautious of a fire.  But watch out for his wagging tail.

Water Safety
If you are camping near water and your dog is not a good swimmer, consider a dog life jacket.  If your dog is a good swimmer but the current is swift, consider a dog life jacket.  If you will be going out on a boat, consider a dog life jacket.  Most dogs can swim, but not all, and not all can swim well in a swift current or if they get caught in the water far away from shore.

Leaving Your Dog Alone
If at all possible, don’t leave your dog alone at the campsite.  You dog could escape from a tent.  He may even be able to escape from a cabin.  And motorhomes have their own danger.  I have heard of the electricity going out of a motor home while the family was away and their dog who was left there alone died of heat exhaustion.  Extreme heat could also be a danger in a tent or cabin.  And don’t leave your dog tied up outside alone.  Besides the chance of your dog getting loose, he could also encounter wild animals and other dangers.

These are important pet safety tips no matter where you travel with your dog.  So no matter where you travel this spring, make sure your dog is safe.

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