Winter camping is difficult but extremely rewarding in the end. It’s even better when you have to bring your furry friend with you.
Dogs add a certain level of fun and enthusiasm to any outdoor adventure. However, before you think about taking your dog with you for winter camping there is something you need to understand.
Just like not all humans are made for winter camping, it’s not every pooch that can handle camping or even winter camping for that matter.
Before you head out, you need to make sure that your pooch has what it takes to handle the harshness of winter camping.
While dogs like running around in the snow and make it seem fun, it doesn’t mean that your dog can handle the long and cold hours of winter camping.
For instance, a husky will thrive well during winter camping but a greyhound will not have it easy.
With that in mind, there are certain things that you can do to prepare your dog and yourself for winter camping.
Let’s have a look!
Tips to Consider When Winter Camping with Your Dog
If you are considering going camping with your dog, then it’s only right that you make sure that your dog will be having as much fun as you.
It’s not all dogs that can do well in cold weather especially when you are camping for days. Here are a few factors that you need to consider.
Be realistic about your dog
In as much as you want to take your furry friend with you camping, you need to be a little realistic. First, be honest about your dog.
Some dogs like huskies are built for winter weather while others get cold faster and are better off staying indoors.
Don’t force things! Respect your dog and what he/she can handle and be realistic about that. If you are not sure whether your pup can handle winter weather, take a short hike with them and see how they handle that.
Does your dog seem to enjoy the snow? Are they shivering because of the cold? Even when layered up, if your dog doesn’t seem to enjoy the cold, it won’t make a difference when you go camping.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is that big and fluffier dogs can do well when winter camping than the smaller, less fluffy furry friends.
Practice winter camping on your own first
Winter camping is different from regular camping and this is one little fact that a majority of campers ignore.
If you’ve never gone winter camping, before you think about taking your pooch with you, you need to make sure that you can handle the demands of such camping yourself.
There is so much involved in winter camping especially when it comes to staying warm. There is a learning curve that you can’t skip.
The last thing you want is to worry about how to keep you and your dog warm because you didn’t prepare well.
As such, go on a short winter camping trip without your dog to make sure that you have what it takes to camp for days under such conditions.
If you are comfortable with the whole ordeal, then you can think about bringing your furry friend with you.
Check whether the camp allows dogs
This is one thing that a majority of people tend to overlook. It’s not every camping ground or park that allows camping with dogs.
In as much as you want to bring your pup with you, if the park is not dog friendly, there is nothing you can do to bend the rules.
Some recreation centers will only allow dogs in specific areas while others forbid it completely.
Be sure to check before you plan your trip to make sure that you can actually take your dog with you without breaking any rules.
Layer up your dog
Now that you’ve established that your dog can handle winter camping, you need to take care of it.
In as much as your dog may be fluffy, they still need to remain warm when you are camping. Unless you have a husky or any other dog bred to thrive in freezing temperatures, most other breeds need to keep warm when outdoors during winter.
What this means is that they need to sleep in the tent with you and you also need to provide them with a warm outer layer.
A dog jacket will offer that extra insulation your dog needs. There are so many options that you can choose from like fleece-lined and waterproof dog jackets.
When you are choosing a dog jacket, go for one that is thick to keep your pooch warm. Another thing you need to consider bringing with you is an absorbent towel.
Your dog will most likely go running in the snow and will get wet. The last thing you want is your pooch remaining like that. An absorbent towel is meant to dry off their fur faster.
Consider bringing a dog sleeping bag
If your dog prefers its own space, then you need to consider buying a dog sleeping bag. There are so many options available.
However, go for a water-resistant sleeping bag, and also one that is made from durable fabric and dries fast.
Bring dog winter booties with you
While the paws of dogs can handle winter weather better than us, their paws still run the risk of getting cracked or cut when exposed to snow and ice.
Therefore, bring winter booties with you to protect their paws. Before you go camping, however, just like your feet would need time to get accustomed to new boots, the same applies to your pooch.
Try the winter booties on them while at home until they can comfortably walk in them. If they can’t, then you might want to consider buying another type.
If you don’t want to bring booties with you or your pooch doesn’t like wearing them, ensure that you regularly check for painful ice balls between their paw pads.
Likewise, your dog is likely to get colder fast if they are walking on bare paws in the snow, therefore make sure that you dry their paws periodically.
You might also want to consider using paw balm or wax to keep their paws moisturized.
Consider bright colored gear
Your dog especially if they are lightly colored, will be harder to spot when you are winter camping.
Therefore, you need to consider packing bright-colored gear from jackets, harnesses, and collars.
Always watch out for signs of hypothermia
Dogs just like humans are susceptible to hypothermia when exposed to extreme freezing temperatures. This is especially if you didn’t take time to prepare your dog for winter camping.
When you are camping, always be on the lookout for these hypothermia signs:
- Slow breathing
- Dilation of the pupils
- Your dog generally feeling cold to the touch
If you notice any of these signs on your pooch, consider warming them up immediately. Use towels, blankets, heaters, or even your own body heat to increase their body temperature.
If they don’t warm up in a few minutes, then you might have to call a vet immediately.
Keep your dog moving
Just like us, dogs tend to raise their body temperature when they are moving and lower it when they are at rest.
While you might want to stay warm in your tent when you are camping, your dog still needs to move to keep the body warm.
So what do you do? Play with your pooch. You can pack a toy that you can use to play tug of war or fetch with it.
In the process, you will also raise your body temperature so it’s a win-win situation. And your dog doesn’t have to move around the whole camping ground to stay warm.
Even cozying up with a squeaky chew toy in the tent will be enough to raise their body temperature.
Keep your dog well fed and hydrated
Just like moving, one thing you can’t afford to ignore is the nutrition of your dog during winter camping.
Keeping your dog well-fed is the best way you can raise their body temperature. So bring with you lots of snacks and food that they can have when you are not playing with them.
When you are winter camping, consider what you are feeding your dog also. Healthy energy-driven snacks are more ideal.
Likewise, your dog also needs to stay hydrated even when it’s freezing outside. Therefore, consider providing enough water and drinks for your dog.
Camping with your pooch during winter is always an unforgettable experience. However, before you do that, you need to make sure that your dog can handle winter camping.
Prepare your dog beforehand by going for a hike to see how they handle the cold. When it comes to actual camping, you need to keep yourself and the dog warm. Bring insulated gear like sleeping bags and dog jackets to keep them warm. Also keeping them hydrated and well fed will go a long way in determining just how fulfilling your camping trip will be. So, there you go.
If you’ve always considered winter camping with your dog, now you know what tips to follow to make the experience unforgettable.