The Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests provide habitat for all kinds of fascinating wildlife. A few creatures, like bears or venomous snakes, could pose a risk to you or your pet if approached or surprised. Deer, foxes, squirrels, raccoons, birds and even lizards seem to tempt even the laziest of urban dogs to chase. Please protect forest wildlife by leashing your pet.
Thinking of bringing the hound for you next camping trip or hike? Here are a few more thoughts that may be useful to consider:
Is your dog up to it physically?
In the great outdoors, your dog may well get much more exercise than he is accustomed to. The terrain may be dramatically different from what he's used to (steep hills, rocky paths, etc.) That's not to say that your dog has to be in star-athlete condition. Just be sure that it's not going to be too taxing for him.
What about his personality and habits?
Will your dog's behavior negatively impact the experience of other visitors? While you might not be bothered by your dog's early morning barking, your fellow campers might be.
Make sure vaccinations are up to date
First of all, it's very important that all of your dog's vaccinations are up to date especially if your dog is going to be in contact with other pets. You might also want to talk to your vet about giving your dog a lyme vaccination in case he comes in contact with ticks.
Bring the leash, collar and dog tags
Bring a short, sturdy leash for hiking. If you're hiking in terrain with cliffs, canyons, big rocks or other challenging conditions, it may be safest to attach the leash to a sturdy harness instead of to a neck collar. Also, make sure your dog has his identification tags in case he gets lost. You could also bring along a recent photo of your pet to show other campers or a ranger in the event that your he goes missing.
If your dog is bitten by a snake, immobilize the body part that has been bitten. Keep it at or below the level of the heart. Keep the pet calm and still. Carry the pet if possible. Get to a vet as soon as possible, and try to identify the type of snake. Do not manipulate the bitten area any more than necessary. Do not cut over the fang marks. Do not ice pack or tourniquet the area.
Other helpful tips
Make sure you pack plenty of water.
You may be on vacation, but don't take a break from grooming your dog.
Bring along your dog's brush or comb.
Bring a first aid kit for your dog, along with the number of a vet that's closest to your camping area.
Pack plenty of plastic bags so you can clean up after your dog.
Never leave your dog outside alone.
Don't leave your dog's food out in the open when he's not eating it. It could attract unwanted insects or wildlife.
Keep your dog quiet. Frequent and continued barking disturbs the wildlife and other campers.
Try to get a site with some shade for your dog.
Pet First Aid Kit
Here are a few items you will find useful for treating pet emergencies in the field.
A clean tube sock for wrapping around the head to secure a lacerated ear.
A bandana for a makeshift muzzle.
Flat-bladed tweezers and a small container of mineral oil for tick removal.
An emergency fold-up blanket (space blanket) for treating shock, cold or, for smaller dogs, even carriage.
A folding tool that has needle-nosed pliers for extracting a large thorn or a porcupine quill or two.
A small container of hydrogen peroxide, which, mixed with baking soda, water and liquid soap, will cut the aroma of skunk perfume. Keep the mix away from the dog’s eyes.
Booties for protecting injured paws. They can also be used to help to prevent ice and snow build up between the toes.
Vaccination and rabies certification. This may keep your dog out of the pound should he happen to bite someone.
A small first aid book with instructions for treating pets.