9 essential tips for hiking with your dog
Be Prepared Before Hitting the TrailsWhether you’re planning to bring your dog along on a day hike or an extended trip, it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected before heading into the wilderness.
1. Endurance and good health
Make sure your dog is capable of the physical exertion involved in a hike. Also, check the weather forecast; even super fit dogs can overheat on hot days. Brachycephalic breeds (the ones with short snouts, like bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese and Boston terriers) have a hard time breathing in the heat.
2. Park regulations
Many national parks prohibit dogs on the trail, so confirm ahead of time that the trails you’ll be hiking allow canine companions. Sites like bringfido.com and hikewithyourdog.com are good places to start.
3. Pet first aid kit
While it’s crucial to bring a well-stocked pet first aid kit, it’s just as important to know how to use it. In an emergency, you can stabilize your pet until you can get to a veterinary hospital.
4. Parasite prevention
Rivers, lakes, stagnant water and soil can contain parasites and bacteria that could make your dog sick. Stay a step ahead by making sure vaccinations are up to date and you’re using flea and tick preventives.
5. Collar and leash
Your dog should always wear a collar with up-to-date ID tags. And even if off-leash dogs are allowed on the trail, bring a leash anyway. A short, four- or six-foot leash gives you better control than a retractable. For an added layer of protection, consider a GPS beacon for your dog’s collar.
6. Pet Bowls
Collapsible bowls are the lightest to carry. And since your pooch will be burning lots of calories, bring snacks like apples, carrots and treats for day trips; for multi-day hikes, increase meal portions.
7. Dog Blanket
A blanket provides warmth and a soft place to rest. In an emergency, it can also be used to wrap or carry an injured pet.
8. Suncreen for Dogs
Yes, even dogs can get sunburned. Ear tips, nose and underbelly are particularly susceptible. Consult your vet on what kind of sunscreen is best for your dog.
9. Waste Disposal
Just because you’re out in nature doesn’t mean it’s OK to leave dog poop behind. Some parks allow you to bury poop, while others require you to carry it out to dispose of it. Make sure you know what the waste policies are, as you could face a fine if you don’t comply
An outdoor adventure should be fun and safe for everyone. Be sure to check thoroughly for ticks, foxtails, burrs and other foreign objects; pay extra attention to ears, in between paw pads and on the tail. Last but not least, a warm post-hike bath for your companion will probably feel pretty good.