Pets in the Wilderness


There is nothing like taking your best friend on a trip, but you really need to consider all the angles.  Once youíre sure your pet is comfortable riding in your boat and itís not a problem with your other traveling companions you will need to make sure all his/her other needs are met.  If you plan to stay in a motel before or after you start the voyage, make sure it is pet friendly. 

Note: Never tie a pet or attach theyíre leash to your boat while on the water.

These comment and recommendations apply to any pet you might consider bring on a wilderness trip.  Letís assume that we are talking mainly about dogs or possibly cats. 

Food and Drink

Make sure you have enough food for your pet for the entire trip.  Dry food would probably be best as it weighs less than other types.  If you normally feed your pet canned food you may want to switch to dried food several days before your trip so he/she is use to it. Depending on the quality of the river water you may need to provide filtered water as well.  Donít forget the food and water bowl and some treats.

Is your pet in good shape? 

Just like everyone else on the trip, they will need to go everywhere you with you.  They will have to walk that portage trail, climb up that river bank and if you capsize, swim the rapids and make it to shore. In sharp rocky areas, you may need to provide padding for his/her paws.


Every member of your group including your pet need to wear a PDF while on the water. There will be areas where because of rapids, cliffs, ledges or other obstacles, that a swim might be longer than expected. An extended time in the water can cause hypothermia in your pet.  That PFD will help them survive.

Medication & Vaccinations:

Just like people, dogs take medications.  Make sure you have any medication for your pet in a waterproof container and properly labeled. 

Has your dog been vaccinated for rabies and is he/she wearing the rabies tag?  Without the tag if something happens like biting someone or fighting a wild animal, you friend may get quarantined until you provide proof.  A copy of a veterinarian bill with vaccination information could also come in handy.


Your pet should be wearing some identification.   The ID tag needs to include his/her name and your contact information.


There are times when even the best behaved dog will chase a squirrel or other small animal.  There may also be larger animals that visit your campsites.   A leash or tether should be available to restrain your friend when needed.

Sleeping quarters:

Donít forget to provide sleeping quarters like you friend is accustom too.  If you plan to have him/her share your tent, make sure they will be comfortable with it.  You may want to try it at least once before your trip.