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How to Camp with Your Dog

How to Camp with Your Dog

To camp with your dog, you need to make sure your dog is as comfortable at the campsite as he is at home. This means you need to do some planning and really consider what type of dog you have.

Do you have a dog who likes to explore? Does your dog have boundless energy? Does your dog like to sleep in and lounge in the sun? How does your dog react around strangers, children, and other dogs? Will your dog’s joint health support a long all-day hike or a day splashing around in the lake?

It’s important that you take your dog’s personality, age, and joint health into consideration when planning your camping trip. Hoping that your dog will be happy to rough it in the woods for three days sleeping in a tent, is a big gamble. You can’t convince your dog to do something he doesn’t want to do.

Before booking a campsite and planning your get-away – make sure your dog is a dog who wants to camp. Remember, camping can take on all formats, you can really rough it at a hike-in only camp site, stay in a more urban camping area, camp in a yurt, book a dog-friendly cabin in the woods, or even rent an RV and go for the deluxe version of camping.

Ultimately, you need to choose a camping style that works for everyone, including your dog. Once you’ve determined what will work, it’s time to get down to the fun stuff – planning your camping get-away with your best friend.

What You Need to Do Before Leaving for your Camping Trip

Before throwing a bunch of gear in the back of your car and hitting the open road with your dog for the nearest campsite, you need to do some preparation and planning.

Choose a Dog-Friendly Campsite

Not all campsites are dog-friendly. Don’t think you can sneak your dog into a campsite. There are reasons why some campsites and parks do not allow dogs.

If you’re planning on visiting a National Park, don’t assume that every park has the same rules. Make sure the National Park you choose allows dogs for day trips and for camping. If you plan to do backcountry camping, definitely confirm that the National Park allows dogs in the backcountry.

For state and local parks, make sure you do the same research. Every park has its own rules and regulations. If your dog is allowed, then make sure you know the rules around your dog staying at the park or campground.

Visit the Vet Before your Camping Trip

Before hitting the great outdoors, visit your vet to make sure your dog is healthy and has all of her required shots. According to the AAHA The Standard for Veterinary Excellence, you should ask your vet about preventive medicine for fleas, ticks, and heartworm.

Make sure your dog’s microchip information is up-to-date and keep a copy of your dog’s vaccine records in your car or in your backpack. Don’t forget to update your dog’s tag should any information have changed.

If your dog has any existing conditions such as arthritis or another mobility concern, talk to your vet about your plans for your camping trip. Ask questions about hiking and walking in rougher terrain and know the signs that can indicate your dog is sore or has done too much.

Put Together a Dog First Aid Kit

Be ready for anything and this means bringing a dog-specific first aid kit. Put the following in your dog’s first aid kit:

  • Bandana: can be used to cool your dog, as a muzzle, or to help wrap a wound.
  • Tick kit: flat-bladed tweezers and mineral oil to make tick removal straight-forward.
  • Space blanket: ideal if you or your dog gets cold or is injured.
  • Multi-purpose tool: especially important is the plier function which can be useful for removing thorns, porcupine quills, slivers, etc.
  • Booties: in the event the weather changes, you run into unexpected snow, or if your dog cuts her paw.
  • Contact information for the nearest veterinarian.

During your pre-camping vet visit, ask your vet what you should include in your dog’s first aid kit. Make sure the kit can easily fit in whatever pack or bag you plan to carry with you on hikes, beach outings, or other activities away from the campsite.

Pack Your Dog’s Supplies

Your dog is going to need some supplies to make the trip enjoyable and safe. Bring your dog’s leash and a stake – your dog needs to on her leash at the campsite. A portable dog bed and a comfortable blanket will make it easier for your dog to rest her joints and sleep comfortably. A collapsible dog food bowl and water bowl make it easy to carry these with you when out hiking or exploring. Don’t forget dog friendly toys such as a favorite ball or frisbee. And yes, you need to bring the poop bags!

Test Sleeping in a Tent

If you plan on sleeping in a tent, it’s a great idea to test out the sleeping arrangements before you arrive at your campsite. If you can, set up your tent with all your gear in your backyard for a couple nights of sleep practice.

This gives you the opportunity to confirm the tent is big enough for you and your dog. You’ll find out quickly if your dog is comfortable sleeping in a tent. And you’ll be able to test out your sleeping bags, camping pads, and dog bed inside the tent.

How to Have a Fun Camping Experience with your Dog

To have a fun camping experience with your dog, you just need to do a little bit of planning and packing beforehand. Remember a happy dog is a fun dog. Bring your dog’s favorite chew toy, dog treats, and a leash and collar he’s comfortable with.

Plan activities that will be fun for your dog. Your dog might be a bit nervous sleeping outdoors so think about how the unexpected nature and campsite noises will impact your dog.

Here’s to many new camping adventures with your dog. Maybe you’ll even venture into winter camping with your dog!

Tell us about how you camp with your dog – leave a post on the Leaps & Bounds Facebook Community page or tag us in your camping trip photos on Instagram.

About the author

Michael Bentley, President of SierraSil Health, has twice been recognized by Optimyz magazine as one of Canada’s top 100 health and wellness influencers and in 2019 was honored by the Canadian Health Food Association with the John Holtmann Industry Leadership Award. He is also a Trustee of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and past Board member of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, Family Services of BC and other non-profit organizations.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Joint Health

Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Joint Health

We care deeply about your joint health and mobility. This means we spend a lot of time thinking about, researching, and discussing the best ways to achieve and maintain flexible, mobile, and healthy joints.

If you browse our blog you’ll see a range of articles on topics such as How to Use a Tennis Ball for Sore Muscle Relief, How Exercise Benefits Whole Body Health, What is DOMS?, and Spice Things Up with Curcumin and Turmeric.

Each of these articles touches on a different aspect and approach to healthy joints, supportive muscles, and balanced life. These articles and the rest of the information on our website are all part of our commitment to providing you with a balanced and well-rounded information base on joint health, mobility, and living a balanced life.

And this is why we published this article about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and joint health. TCM is gaining more popularity and we’ve been receiving a lot of questions about TCM at trade shows, conferences, and other consumer events.

In this article we explain what TCM is and how it can be used to treat joint discomfort or pain. However, we want you to remember that we are not experts or proponents of TCM. Before undertaking any new type of treatment for your arthritis or sore joints, you must discuss this with your doctor. Remember, health is wealth – so take care to make the right decisions for your whole-body health.

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient system and approach to achieving health and wellness. This approach to healing the body has been used in China for thousands of years.

The difference between TCM and western medicine is in the approach to treating illness and healing the body. TCM considers every aspect of your body, environment, and energy when creating a treatment plan. Western medicine looks at the area of the body that is unwell, injured or diseased and focuses on treating the exact problem.

There are two central themes or ideas that guide TCM practitioners:

  • Qi: is life energy or vital energy. TCM experts believe that Qi runs through your body and it’s always moving and changing. Many TCM treatments focus on how to keep the flow of Qi in your body active and flowing.
  • Yin and Yang: these two opposites explain the key qualities of Qi. Yin is hot, light, feminine, day, and hollow. Yang is cold, heavy, masculine, night, and solid. To have optimum health you need to have a balance between the yin and yang of Qi. If one is out of balance, you can become sick.

Ultimately, TCM is centered around creating harmony between yin and yang, thereby allowing the healthy flow of Qi through-out your body.

TCM uses different treatment practices to deal with injury, illness, and pain:

  • Acupuncture: many physiotherapists, massage therapist, and other medical practitioners also use this treatment methodology. Very fine needles are placed carefully in your skin to help alleviate tightness, stress, and to calm various body systems.
  • Cupping: you may have seen photos of athletes with big circular bruises on their skin. This is from cupping – the practice of placing heated suction cups on the skin.
  • Herbs: various herbs, plants, flowers are combined to create teas, tinctures, and powders.
  • Meditation: more and more people are understanding how important the mind is in alleviating pain and managing illness. TCM uses meditation to help calm your mind, allowing your Qi to flow more freely and easily.
  • Moxibustion: dried herbs might be burned near your skin to stimulate the flow of Qi in your body.
  • Tai Chi: this martial art is characterized by slow controlled movements. These movements help strengthen your muscles, maintain flexible joints, and to calm the mind.

How is Traditional Chinese Medicine Use to Treat Joint Discomfort?

The Traditional Chinese Medicine practices of acupuncture, cupping, herbs, meditation, moxibustion, and Tai Chi can be used together or in isolation to treat joint discomfort or pain.

In TCM, practitioners believe that joint pain such as that of arthritis are caused by a blockage that prevents the smooth flow of Qi through-out your body. Because this blockage is associated with the bones, it is called Bone Bi. Bone Bi is a blockage that impacts the bones and joints.

Within TCM, the belief is that the cause of Bone Bi is environmental. Specifically, the wind, cold, and dampness can penetrate your bones, muscles, tendons, and joints – causing pain, reduced mobility, and stiffness.

When this happens, it is not possible for Qi to flow through your body freely, maintaining the balance of yin (hot, light, feminine, day, and hollow) and yang (cold, heavy, masculine, night, and solid).

The TCM treatment for joint pain is based on the category of Bone Bi causing the problems. If you do pursue TCM treatment for your joint discomfort, ask your TCM practitioner about Wind Bi, Cold Bi, Damp Bi, and Heat Bi.

Based on the type of Bone Bi causing the joint discomfort, the TCM treatment plan will likely involve a combination of:

  • Acupuncture: the needles are typically inserted into the affected joints and painful areas. This stimulates blood flow and circulation, helping to relieve the blockage that is causing the discomfort, inflammation, and stiffness.
  • Herbs: based on the type of blockage (Cold Bi or Heat Bi), a herbal remedy is used to eliminate excessive cold or heat in the body. When this happens, the joints can move more freely, and the stiffness is typically gone.
  • Exercise: like western medicine, there is a strong belief and understanding within TCM of the value of exercise to alleviate joint discomfort and pain associated with arthritis. Gentle exercise such as Tai Chi, swimming, walking, stretching, and cycling are ideal.
  • Diet: again, like western medicine, there is a strong knowledgebase in TCM about the importance of food in healing joint discomfort. In TCM, the best diet for treating joint discomfort is connected to the blockage type. For example, if you’ve got a Cold Bi, you need to eat cooked foods that are warm and contain anti-inflammatory spices such as Turmeric, cayenne, and ginger.

As with any change in how you treat your joint discomfort or arthritis, it’s critical you talk to your doctor first. When discussing TCM, it’s a good idea to ask about your options for all-natural supplements as well.

As always, the SierraSil team is here to answer any of your questions about how SierraSil works to support joint health and calm inflammation and any other questions about SierraSil, joint health, and mobility.

About the Author
Michael Bentley, President of SierraSil Health, has twice been recognized by Optimyz magazine as one of Canada’s top 100 health and wellness influencers and in 2019 was honored by the Canadian Health Food Association with the John Holtmann Industry Leadership Award. He is also a Trustee of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and past Board member of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, Family Services of BC and other non-profit organizations.

What is Wrong With my Dog’s Elbow?

What is Wrong With my Dog’s Elbow?

Elbow dysplasia could be causing your dog’s elbow to be uncomfortable, making it hard for your dog to walk.

Many large breed dogs including Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Bearded Collies, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, and Newfoundlands are prone to elbow dysplasia.

If you notice your dog is limping or is trying to avoid putting weight on a leg – this could indicate your dog’s elbow is giving him trouble. Interestingly, elbow dysplasia is very common in dogs and symptoms can arise in dogs as young as 4 months old.

However, like most dog joint problems, it can take up to 1 year for your dog to show her elbow discomfort.

Read on for the facts on dog elbow dysplasia including a detailed description of the condition, the signs and symptoms, and treatment options.

What is Dog Elbow Dysplasia?

Dog elbow dysplasia is a common condition caused by the abnormal growth of the cells, tissue, or bone in the elbow. The elbow is the first joint in your dog’s leg.

According to, this elbow condition is characterized by developmental abnormalities that lead to the malformation and degeneration of the elbow joint.

Elbow dysplasia is the most common reason for elbow discomfort and lameness. Additionally, it is one of the major causes of front limb lameness in large and giant breed dogs.

This dog joint condition is often diagnosed when your dog is between 4 and 18 months. This diagnosis really depends on how well your dog manages to hide his elbow discomfort. As we know, dogs are experts at hiding joint discomfort.

To make things more complicated, not all dogs show signs of elbow dysplasia when young – some dogs can suffer from an acute onset of the condition as a result of more general joint deterioration.

Elbow dysplasia is a genetic condition, therefore it’s important you do not breed a dog who has been diagnosed with the condition. As well, it’s important that you contact your breeder and let them know that your dog has been diagnosed with elbow dysplasia.

This dog elbow condition can also be exacerbated by the amount and quality of nutrients your dog eats. If your breed of dog is prone to elbow dysplasia, it’s key that you keep your dog at a healthy weight, particularly while he is growing and developing.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dog Elbow Dysplasia?

The signs of dog elbow dysplasia include:

  • Your dog limps.
  • Your dog tries to stick his sore leg out from his body as he walks, in an attempt to avoid putting weight on it.
  • A limited range of motion in the impacted leg. Your dog might appear to have a stiff leg.
  • Lameness that is made worse with exercise.
  • Stiffness and an inability to weight-bear after your dog has been sleeping or resting.

If your dog has elbow dysplasia, he can experience some or all of these symptoms:

  • A sudden and acute onset of lameness as a result of degenerative joint disease.
  • Discomfort when the elbow is flexed.
  • Swelling due to fluid build-up in the elbow joint.
  • The elbow joint bones may grate or rub during movement.

If you notice any changes in your dog’s ability to walk, run, jump, or sit comfortably – contact your veterinarian. Remember, dogs are experts at hiding all signs of elbow joint discomfort until the discomfort becomes too severe to hide.

How is Dog Elbow Dysplasia Treated?

The treatment for dog elbow dysplasia really depends on the severity of the condition and the age of your dog.

To diagnose elbow dysplasia, your veterinarian will do a full physical assessment, ask you questions about your dog’s mobility and behavior, and use x-rays to identify the abnormalities in your dog’s elbow joint and bones.

The treatment options for this dog elbow joint discomfort include:

  • Surgery: this approach is often used in young dogs or in puppies when the elbow dysplasia is caught early. There are surgical approaches that can correct any defects in the elbow joint, preventing the defects to continue as your dog grows. The decision around surgery really depends on how well your dog can recover from surgery.
  • Rehabilitation therapy: many dogs respond well to physiotherapy or other rehab therapy. This treatment protocol can include range-of-motion exercises, spending time in a pool doing non-weight bearing exercise, massage, and walking on an underwater treadmill.
  • Weight management: maintaining an ideal weight is critical for any dog, but especially for dogs with elbow joint discomfort. For puppies that are prone to elbow dysplasia, maintaining a healthy weight minimizes the stress and pressure on the elbow joint. Discuss any weight management strategies with your veterinarian – there might a recommended food that can help your dog maintain a healthy weight and also provide extra joint support. Do not change your dog’s diet without speaking to your veterinarian.
  • Natural supplements: a natural supplement that is proven to support your dog’s mobility can help ease elbow joint discomfort. An all-natural dog chew like Leaps & Bounds help ease inflammation in dog joints and restore your dog’s mobility range.
  • Supportive exercise: the natural tendency is to think you should limit your dog’s exercise and play time if she’s suffering from elbow dysplasia. However, it’s important to remember that your dog needs to keep her supportive muscles, tendons, and ligaments strong and flexible. The best way to do this is with exercise. Additionally, to help avoid weight gain, it’s important for your dog to do supportive elbow joint exercises. And, don’t overlook the reality that your dog wants to move and play – limiting her motion can cause depression, sadness, and boredom in your dog. Talk to your veterinarian about the best and safest ways for your dog to get her exercise and play time.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication: depending on the severity of your dog’s elbow dysplasia, your veterinarian may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the discomfort.

The good news is that elbow dysplasia is a widely recognized and understood elbow condition in dogs. It’s important that you follow your veterinarian’s recommendations and do not make any sudden changes in diet, exercise, or routine.

Does your dog have elbow dysplasia? It’s likely that many dogs and dog parents in the SierraSil Leaps & Bounds community are living with elbow dysplasia – tell us how you’re caring for your dog’s elbow joint discomfort.