Love camping? How about camping canine-style? Here are some great tips from PETstock Vet Dr Rod Sharpin, including suggestions of Australia’s best camping spots for you and your dog.
Holidays and long weekends are the most popular times for family camping trips, but if your family includes a canine member, PETstock Vet Dr. Rod Sharpin urges you to be prepared.
Preparation before camping canine-style
According to Dr. Sharpin, sorting out ID tags, microchipping and insurance before leaving for your trip is essential.
“Before you head off, ensure your pet has a current ID tag and has been microchipped, which will help identify them if they become lost. Make sure your mobile phone details are registered correctly with your dog’s microchip so that you can be contacted if your pet goes missing.”
Dr. Sharpin also highlights the importance of taking out pet insurance before you travel: “When we surveyed 905 pet parents about their largest vet bill, two respondents revealed that they had spent $12,000 on a bill, with the average spend at $1,649! Unfamiliar surroundings increase the risk of your dog getting injured, being bitten by an insect or reptile, or eating something by mistake, which makes pet insurance a must,” he says.
Ticks are common in Australia and are found in dense bush and long grass. A tick bite can make your pet perilously ill, so it’s important that you arrange flea and tick protection at your local vet clinic before you leave, as well as maintain vigilance when you travel.
Dr. Sharpin explains that “there are two common species of ticks seen in Australia, the most notable being the paralysis tick. Most cases of tick poisoning occur between June and January, however cases are seen throughout the entire year.
“Paralysis ticks burrow into your pet’s skin and feed on blood. During feeding, the tick’s toxic saliva is injected into the pet, which causes poisoning. Ticks are very small when they first attach, which means they often go unnoticed until days later when the tick has fed and is engorged, or when symptoms begin.
“Symptoms of tick poisoning include changes to bark, lethargy, vomiting and muscular paralysis, usually starting in the hind legs. In progressed cases, the pet can be unable to stand and struggle to breathe.
“If you suspect your buddy may have tick poisoning or if you find a tick on your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately.”
First-aid and emergencies
Pets, like humans, can become injured and ill while exploring the great outdoors, and may need immediate assistance. If you see bleeding, apply pressure with your hands or a bandage; if your dog gets burnt, cool the area with running water and apply a cool pack; if they are having difficulty breathing, check that there are no foreign objects in your dog’s mouth.
Ensure that you pack a first-aid kit for the trip, prioritising the following: a travel water bottle to prevent dehydration on long walks, and a towel, which can be very useful for lots of situations, including as a bandage, sling or even stretcher to carry an ill pet.
You should also include bandages and dressings to cover wounds, iodine based antiseptic cream, gloves, scissors, and tweezers to remove splinters, grass seeds or ticks. Saline should be packed in case you need to wash your pet’s eyes, shampoo for a general wash and pet sunscreen to protect hairless areas like around the nose and on the belly.
Round the camp fire
There’s nothing like cuddling up with your pal in front of a roaring fire, but you do need to make sure your dog is far enough from the flames that it doesn’t get burnt by a random spark. Positioning your buddy (and yourself) upwind from the smoke is also a good idea!
Be sure to keep your dog away from the extinguished fire pit and train them to stay away, it can retain heat as well as leftover debris like food and foil wrap, which are unsafe.
Hazards like fish hooks, kebab sticks and firelighters are also popular pooch chew-toys that are dangerous, so make sure these items are stored or disposed of carefully.
Ensuring that your dog avoids drinking stagnant water is important, as is keeping them away from toxic plants.Find out more information here about a plant that’s commonly found where you plan to camp.
Nights out in the outdoors can become chilly for humans and pets alike. Make sure your furry friend stays rugged up and warm with a jacket, travel bed, warm cushions and blankets. Take their collar and lead, medications and a supply of food for the duration of the trip, as well as travel food and drink bowls.
Poop bags, grooming equipment, and a crate to secure your dog in the car with enough water for the journey are essentials.
PETstock have compiled a list of the top Australian camping spots for you and your dog…
Top Aussie spots for camping with canines
Many camping grounds across Australia allow dogs so long as they’re on a lead. Ensure you call ahead to get an understanding of any further restrictions. Here are some great places you can take your dog across WA, QLD, VIC and NSW:
Top five spots in WA:
Sandy Cape Recreation Park
Located 10km north of Jurien, Sandy Cape is the perfect holiday destination for beach-loving humans and canines. Steep sand dunes and a beautiful, sheltered bay make for the perfect sand boarding and snorkelling conditions so you’ll have plenty to do all day.
Nanga Mill, Dwellingup
18 kilometres from Dwellingup, this is the largest campsite in the area. Once the site of a jarrah saw mill, Nanga Mill is now a peaceful camping and picnic spot. Explore the historical site with a bushwalk or go for a paddle in the river that flows through the campground.
Alexandra Bridge Camping Ground, Black Wood River
Nature lovers can’t go past Alexandra Bridge. This tranquil spot has a stunning array of birds and wildlife, plus, the river provides activities such as swimming, canoeing, fishing and boating. Don’t forget your doggy life vest!
Duke of Orleans Bay
Situated between Cape Le Grand and Cape Arid National Parks, 83km east of Esperance is where you’ll find some of the most picturesque and breathtaking beaches in Australia. The Duke caravan park is the perfect place to stay with your pup with snow white sand and crystal blue beaches just a short walk away.
Ellendale Pool camping area
47 kilometres east of Geraldton, this scenic campsite has it all – gum trees, sandstone cliffs and a freshwater pool. There’s great water-based activities to enjoy or relax under a gumtree listening to the abundant birdlife that inhabit the area.
Top five spots in QLD:
Amamoor Creek camping area, Sunshine Coast
Nested in an ironbark and blue gum forest on the banks on the Amamoor Creek is where you’ll find these dog-friendly campsites. Amamoor State Forest is known for its riverine rainforests and scenic walking tracks and is home to plenty of platypuses and frogs, so be sure to keep an eye on your dog.
Cania Gorge Tourist Retreat, Capricorn
This scenic tourist park is settled into a gorge right outside of Cania Gorge National Park. Enjoy the spectacular views of the national park, be surrounded by wildlife and enjoy some peace and quiet at these dog-friendly camp sites.
Inksip Peninsula, Sunshine Coast
There are four dog friendly camping areas on the Inskip Peninsula. Only a short drive from the famously beautiful Rainbow Beach, all four camp grounds offer shady sites and beach access. For stunning views of Fraser Island we recommend the Beagle or Sarawak sites.
Clancys Camp Area, Benarkin State Forest
Set up camp with your canine at this large, open grassy area next to Bicentennial National Trail. The Benarkin State Forest features rainforest, hoop pine plantations and eucalypt forests, plus Clancys Camp Area is next to the inviting Emu Creek, where you can swim and watch rock wallabies bounce about.
Hedleys camping area, Tuan State Forest
Tuan State Forest is perfect for people and pets who love boating, canoeing and fishing. Hedleys camping area is the perfect place to set up camp and is right next to the Great Sandy Strait, which is home to an abundance of wildlife including threatened species such as shorebirds, dugongs, and marine turtles.
Top five spots in VIC:
Johanna Beach, Great Otway National Park
Johanna Beach is three hours out of Melbourne and part of the Great Otway National Park on the great Ocean Road. It’s a large, open, grassy camping area nestled among the sand dunes and adjacent to the surf beach. What pup doesn’t love a beach holiday?
The Poplars camping area, Loch Valley
The Poplars camping area is around two hours out of Melbourne, close to Mount Baw Baw National Park, and you can camp beside the Loch River. Take your buddy for a long walk along the river while you both take in the tall trees and ferns.
Jerusalem Creek, Lake Eildon National Park
Jerusalem Creek is part of Lake Eildon National Park, and is located 150km north east of Melbourne. It’s situated on the shores of Lake Eildon, with bushwalking, boating and fishing popular activities. Be sure to fit your buddy with a dog flotation vest before you head out on the boat.
Lake Hindmarsh Reserve
Lake Hindmarsh Reserve is close to five hours out of Melbourne, near the Grampians. When filled, Lake Hindmarsh is the perfect location for water skiing, fishing, yabbying and boating, with red river gums and birdlife natural highlights. Your fur baby’s going to love napping under a shady old gum tree.
Howqua Hills Historical Area
Howqua Hills Historical Area is about three-and-a-half hours out of Melbourne, near Mansfield. This old gold mining area is set on the beautiful Howqua River and is popular for picnics, horse riding, bushwalking and four-wheel-driving. Any old dog is going to love the serenity here!
Top five spots in NSW:
Mystery Bay Camp Ground
Mystery Bay Camp Ground is on the South Coast of NSW, just over five hours from Sydney. Right on the ocean, this bush camping site is surrounded by turquoise beaches, rocky coves and spectacular views over cliff headlands. What pup doesn’t love a beach holiday?
Coachwood Camping Area, Chinchester State Forest
Coachwood Camping Area is located on Chinchester State Forest, three-and-a-half hours north west of Sydney. This small clearing on the Telegherry River offers a cool, quiet rainforest setting with a lagoon to swim in, your buddy will love the serenity here.
Riverwood Downs is located on the banks of the Karuah River, in the foothills of the Barrington Tops National Park, around 2.5 north of Sydney. You and your fur baby can enjoy shady walking trails, tall mountains and cool, fresh mountain pools.
Turon Gates campsite
Turon Gates campsite is situated in a valley in the Blue Mountains on the Turon River, only 2.5 hours from Sydney. Pets are allowed off-lead, so long as they are kept under control. Your buddy will love joining you for a mountain bike, bird watching, panning for gold and a river swim.
Wollondilly River Station
Wollondilly River Station is situated in the Southern Highlands of NSW, around three hours south west of Sydney. Pets are allowed off-lead, if they are kept under control at all times. Fishing and attending camp oven cooking demonstrations are perfect for humans, while pets can swim, bushwalk and enjoy evenings under the stars.
Do you know of any great camping spots near you? Please let us know…