Tips for Hiking with Your Dog

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The following article is courtesy of our partner, Banfield Pet Hospital. Used with permission.

Whether you are planning a day hike or a weekend trip, remember that dogs need a few supplies to make sure they stay happy and healthy when traveling or hiking outdoors.

Tips for Hiking with Your Dog

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A few things to consider bringing include:

  • Fresh water and a collapsible bowl
  • Food and treats
  • Current ID tags and a well-fitting collar
  • A sturdy leash for walking or securing your pet to a specific area
  • A proper car restraint like a kennel or seatbelt
  • A bed or blanket to lie on
  • Doggie bags for waste
  • Pad protective booties for rocky/rough terrain, snow, ice, cacti or nettles
  • First aid kit
  • Towel to clean your dog
  • Snake bite kit (if appropriate for your area)
  • Dog sunscreen/hat
  • Doggie backpack for sharing the load. Use only if your dog is used to doing this.

For fitness and endurance, train your dog first with small hikes and increase the distance and weight if you plan on having your dog carry a pack, as you both become conditioned. Consider that there might be elevation changes on some trails. Be sure that dogs are allowed on the trails you plan to hike and take note of the nearest emergency veterinary clinic in the area.

It is important to stop frequently and offer your dog water throughout your hike. Don’t feed your dog a large meal before a hike instead, feed a portion of his/her meal and supplement treats throughout the hike.

Don’t forget to check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is up-to-date on his/her vaccines, as well as flea and tick preventives, and properly microchipped before you head out on a trip.

You never know what your pet can pick up in the great outdoors. Many parasites and viruses are shared by wild animals, such as distemper, lepto, intestinal worms, fleas and ticks.

Also, avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day and keep walks to a reasonable pace and distance. Watch for signs of overexertion, such as excessive panting, drooling, weakness or bright red gums. Also look out for hypothermia, frost-nip, injury to paw pads, lameness and exhaustion.

On the trail:

  • Keep your dog on a leash while hiking
  • Steer clear of poison ivy, oak and sumac (look for leaves of three)
  • Stay away from critters such as snakes, porcupines, bears, mountain lions and coyotes
  • Allow time for frequent rest and water breaks, preferably in the shade
  • After the hike, check for fleas and ticks

If you can, hike where there is shade and some water along the way for cooling paw pads. Avoid areas that permit hunting. For smaller or older dogs, forego an overly strenuous hike. For dogs with arthritis or medical conditions, consult your veterinarian.

Good hiking breeds include Beagles, German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Golden/Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Huskies, Malamutes, Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. In general, sporting, herding and working dogs are fine choices.

With a little planning, hiking with your dog can be a rewarding experience for both of you. Along with providing exercise, you’ll be spending quality time together. Be sure to head out prepared.

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