A lot of campers travel with pets, perhaps even up to 75 percent of them according to some polls. The most common pet is a dog, which isn’t surprising as dogs make great travel and trail companions – plus provide warmth on a cool night.

Campers want to ensure that their pets are healthy before, during, and after a trip. So, as with everything, you need to be prepared for whatever might (hopefully not) come. Follow these few simple tips, so that you can help your canine or feline if needed.


Pack a first aid kit

First of all, don’t simply rely on your phone’s capability to access the internet in order to find the first aid treatment you need for the situation at hand. You should have a physical copy of a pet first aid book available for easy reference and portability.

You can assemble your own kit or purchase a pre-prepared first aid kit from a pet supply store. A kit should include gauze, nonstick bandages, adhesive tape for bandages, hydrogen peroxide, digital thermometer, eye dropper or large syringe, leash, blanket, disposable gloves, scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, small flashlight, and alcohol wipes.


Bring the paperwork

Organize information about your pet in a folder or binder that can be stored and easily retrieved from the vehicle or camper. This information includes vaccination records, any medication names and associated dosages, the latest annual report from your pet’s regular vet practice, microchip information, whether your pet has allergies, emergency contacts, a recent photo, and any pet insurance plan information. Back up these records by scanning or photographing these important records and uploading them to a cloud-based storage system.

Being able to readily provide this information to a new vet who is unfamiliar with you or your pet will help them tremendously with treating your pet.


Pay attention

You know your pet better than anyone. Any unusual behavior should tip you off that something may be amiss, whether it’s emotional or physical. Pay attention to physical changes, too, which could indicate a larger problem or serious illness. Animals don’t display pain the same way as people. Dogs will wag their tails even if they have broken bones. Watch for difficulty breathing or increased respiration, whining, pacing, or excessive panting. These could be signs that your pet is fighting pain.

Some things warrant a trip to the emergency vet. If your dog has bloating, an eye injury, seizure, uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea, unconsciousness, collapse, trauma, or known toxin ingestion, then make your way to a vet right away. Call ahead and let the office know what’s happening while you’re enroute.


How to find an emergency vet, pronto

Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Most likely, you will not need to find a vet when you’re on the road, but you should be prepared anyway. Include the address and phone number for the nearest emergency veterinary hospital or a hometown vet nearest your destination – at every planned destination. There are several apps in addition to websites that can help you locate an emergency vet, including the American Red Cross Pet First Aid App and the American Animal Hospital Association. You can always contact an office first and discuss over whether something is a true emergency.

Many offices also have their own apps, so you can upload photos or complete paperwork through the app. If you do need to make a visit to a vet while traveling or on vacation, then make sure to get copies of the records before leaving. You’ll want them to give to your pet’s regular vet clinic when you return.

Happy trails!