Camping with your pets

Camping with your pets

Are you planning an outdoor adventure with your faithful companion during the summer months? Here are some pointers from the pros.

July 10, 2023

Playing scrabble at night in the camper with our dog asleep at our feet is one of the happiest memories we have of camping. But camping trips don't suit all companion animals. Some dogs get anxious when their daily routine is disturbed. And, well, … cats? It didn't stop Mousseline, a 14-year-old cat, from touring the US for 7 months with her owners Frédérick Leduc and Cynthia LeBlanc, and Shila, an 11-year-old Husky. “Our cat was so happy in the camper, she probably didn't even realize she was travelling,” recounts Cynthia who told us about their trip and shared pointers for travelling with pets.

Here are a few things to think about first.


  • Vaccinations must be up-to-date. Your animal must also be vaccinated for diseases that he can catch in the wilderness, such as heartworms transmitted by mosquitoes and Lyme disease spread by ticks which thrive in many parts of Canada and the US.
  • Don't forget a first-aid kit. Your pets might also need eye drops and a medication for motion sickness. Pack tick-removal tweezers and don't forget products for fleas, ticks and other parasites.
  • Bring a copy of your animal's health record.
  • In an emergency, it's essential to know how to find a veterinarian in Canada, the United States and in other parts of the world. Don't roll your eyes! During my last trip to the Maritimes, I needed to find a veterinarian twice when my dog got sick after drinking sea water.


  • Unless you're travelling with a miniature Poodle, be sure to count your animal as a person when you're buying or renting a tent, trailer or camper.
  • Plan sleeping arrangements. And, for your cat, plan where to put the litterbox (including in the car). Tip: though they're generally larger, litterboxes with handles are easier to transport. “For Mousseline, I use an ultra-light litterbox made from recycled paper or nutshells, which are also biodegradable,” says Cynthia LeBlanc, who's tried them all.

Lost and found

  • If your animal is microchipped, double-check that your contact information is up-to-date.
  • If your pet tends to head for the hills every once in a while, an ID tag is a good idea. “I put one on Mousseline's collar and another one on her harness,” specifies Leblanc, “as cats are renowned for losing their collars.”

“No pets allowed”

  • Not all campsites accept animals and each one has its own rules when it comes to pets.
  • Most will insist that pets be on a leash at all times, even when on your site. In which case, a portable pen can come in handy.
  • Some campsites accept only smaller dogs and others limit the number of animals on their premises at any one time. Some refuse dogs such as Pit bulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans.
  • In National and Provincial parks your pet can sleep with you but may not be allowed on the beach or on trails. Some forests and regional parks extend a warmer welcome to certain animals than others. Be sure you're fully prepared by consulting each park's website.

In the car

  • If an accident were to occur, a safety harness for your dog as well as your cat, which stops them from sliding around, will help limit injury to your pet and your family. An impact occurring when you're driving at 30 km/h will turn your beloved 35-kg dog into a 1,000-kg cannonball. Ouch.
  • If your animal is comfortable in a carrier box, having one during the trip will help your pet to have a better trip. “We put Mousseline in her box when we get gas or cross the border,” says Cynthia LeBlanc. “It's a preventative measure to stop her from leaping out the window or into the face of the customs officer …”
  • Take a break every 2 to 3 hours so that your animals can stretch their legs and relieve themselves.

At the campsite

  • Most campsites don't allow animals to be left unattended in case they start to bark or come face to face with a bear, coyote or a rattlesnake.
  • If you're hoping to visit a museum or treat yourself at the area's top restaurant, but your camper doesn't have air conditioning and it's 25℃ in the shade, you'll need to find a pet sitter or pet-care arrangement.

At the border

  • Since December 2018, proof of rabies vaccination, dated and signed by a veterinarian, is no longer required to enter the US. But be warned that Canadian officials may request it to allow your dog to return to Canada! The take-home message? Your dog—wherever he or she is—should always have its vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Your pet's food must be in its original, unopened packaging, which can't exceed 20 kg and mustn't contain lamb, sheep or goat. Note also that raw pet food isn't allowed to cross into the US.

Can't leave home without your faithful Fido? Stay tuned tomorrow for our check list of practical items to bring when you're camping with your cat or dog.

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