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Camping with pets can be a rewarding experience

Kathi Travers Animal Tracks Summertime means time to load up the car and head for that camping trip in one of B.C.'s wondrous forests and lakes.

Kathi Travers

Animal Tracks

Summertime means time to load up the car and head for that camping trip in one of B.C.'s wondrous forests and lakes. A family camping trip can include all members of your family but a bit of preparations should be done first. This makes for a safe and happy holiday for all.

First of all, dogs should be wear an ID tag not only with your home telephone number but a friend or relative in case the dog wonders off and you can't be reached because you are out looking for him. It is a very wise idea in addition to have the pet tattooed or micro-chipped.

A crate should also be brought along so the pet has a safe zone. This is a good place for your pet to sleep at night and be safe at the same time. I would caution you not leave your precious pooch unattended at a campsite. The old wives tale that a dog will automatically find it's way home is absurd.

Half the fun of camping is cooking out and eating those s'mores. Remember, chocolate can be fatal to your pet. It is very important that you not only carefully put away food stuff to keep bears away but you also must keep it safe from your pet. One such family was on a family camping trip. Everyone was having a delightful time. Suddenly the dog got sick and became very lethargic. They had to get the dog to the vet right away. The dog had gotten ahold of a cooked fish and a bone was stuck inside the poor pooch. Emergency surgery and lots of dollars later cured the pup but it did ruin a vacation.

In addition, bring the dog's own dry food. An easy way for an upset tummy is to suddenly try new food. Bring along fresh water. Dehydration can happen too easily so make sure your dog always has plenty of fresh water.

There are bug sprays that are specifically for dogs, cats and horses that you can purchase at our local pets shops. Don't even think of using a spray that is made for humans. Do not forget to pack a pet first-aid kit. A pet's feet should be checked regularly. Remember your dog is always walking on bare feet. Every now and then check those foot pads for abrasions. Heat is absorbed through the feet so make sure you have a nice shaded area available, as well as plenty of fresh water. Sunscreen on white noses and fleshy parts of the skin too is essential to avoid sunburn.

If you are boating please don't forget the life jacket. The theory that all dogs can swim is a bunch of poppycock! Pet stores and marine shops in the area sell life jackets for pets. It is very important that you actually bring the pet with you for proper fitting. I have heard horror stories about well-meaning people wrapping a dog up in a small child's life jacket. This does not work. The dog can becomes tangled and drown.

If your pet has never been boating you must introduce it slowly to this new experience. Keep in mind, like humans, not all pets are going to be thrilled with this new idea at all.

Some of you folks also like to fish. Fishermen have been known to hook the dog instead of a fish. If this happen to your pet do not pull on the line and set the hook! Simply cut the line and tie it to the dogs' collar and get to your vet immediately. Proper handling may prevent serious abdominal surgery.

Tourism associations offer very good publications called an "Accommodation Guide," and they can often tell you which sites do allow pets. The majority do as long as they are leashed. This is not such a bad idea either. Take along an extra leash and maybe a tie-out cable.

As you can see I have not mentioned cats is this column. Most of you know by now how I feel on that subject. Cats belong at home where they are safe and sound.

Be sure and take plenty of baggies and don't forget to pick up the poop. Have a safe and happy camping trip!

Email me at tracks@jokat.ca and let's talk animals.