Summertime in Chicago is unlike anything else. The water, the parks, and all the patios are hard to beat. But every now and then, it feels pretty darn refreshing to leave the hustle and bustle and explore the quiet of Mother Nature. What better way to do so than by going camping? And camping with dogs is the ultimate way to camp, in our opinion.
While we’re not surrounded by mountains, you’d be amazed how close we are to several really nice parks and campgrounds. For example, one of our favorites is the Kettle Moraine Pike Lake Unit, just two hours north of Chicago.
If your dog, like mine, enjoys walking outdoors and rolling around in all sorts of things, then it’s probably safe to assume they’ll love camping. To help you prepare for your great adventure, we asked Dr. Ashley Peters of BLVD Vet for some pointers.
Tips for Taking Your Dog Camping
What to do ahead of time
- Make sure your dog is up-to-date on its vaccinations, as well as heartworm and flea and tick meds.
- Locate the nearest vet clinic in case of emergency. Write down the location and number since internet connections may be spotty.
What to pack
- Portable water and food bowls, along with your dog’s regular food (plus a little extra in case of emergency).
- Poop bags. All’s fair for off-the-path poops, but don’t be that hiker who leaves trail poops for someone else to find.
- Towels because it’s way more fun to be a dog who’s allowed to play in water and mud (and to be a dog parent who’s prepared for it).
- Bedding or blankets so your dog can cozy up inside the tent at night.
- A long tie-out cable like this one so your dog can have a little more wiggle room while you’re hanging out at the campsite. Just make sure to keep them away from the fire (and the food stash).
- Proper identification (like ID tags and/or microchip) attached to a properly fitting leash, collar, and/or harness.
- A first-aid kit with items for you and the dog. This might include absorbent gauze pads, triple antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, adhesive tape/bandage material, tweezers, etc.
What to do while you’re there
- Find a good shady spot on your site and encourage your dog to hang out there with some water and a toy. Make sure your dog doesn’t drink out of dirty puddles or ponds where diseases like Leptospirosis and Giardia can fester. Instead, bring along this portable water bottle that’s great for hiking!
- Keep the dog on leash during walks and hikes, even if they’re good listeners. This will prevent any bad wildlife encounters, protect them from falling off steep trails or cliffs, and keep them close by in case they get scared.
- Check your dog for ticks, thorns, burrs, foxtails, or anything else that could get attached to their fur or skin. If you’re doing extensive hiking, you may also want to buy your dog fitted booties to protect their paw pads.
Most importantly, have fun and recharge outside! Camping with dogs is a great way to break out of your routine and bond. We just don’t recommend sharing your s’mores.