Dog owners will readily agree that our dogs are not just pets; they are an important part of the family. This means that it’s important to find activities that the whole family can enjoy – not just the two legged members. When it comes to planning a dog-friendly activity, nothing is better than a day spent hiking.
To make sure that both the two and four legged hikers have a great time, take a look at these tips for hiking with dogs.
Book a Pre-Trip Vet Visit
If it is your pup’s first time hiking or first time doing an extended hike, it’s a good idea to take them for a pre-trip vet visit. At this appointment, you can make sure that your dog is in healthy hiking shape, as well ensure that their flea and tick medication is up to date. Just like with humans, tick bites can cause long-term health problems in dogs.
Get Your Dog’s Documents in Order
After you get the okay from your vet for your dog to join in on the family hike fun, the next thing you need to do is get their documents in order. Make sure that your dog has up to date license and ID tags, and bring any papers that verify their current vaccinations. These will be important to have if anything happens while on your hike and you need to make an emergency trip to the veterinarian.
Have a Pet First Aid Kit
In addition to your dog’s important documents, you’ll want to have a specialized pet first aid kit. These can be bought from any pet supply store, or you can assemble one yourself. If you don’t have space to bring a dedicated vet first aid kit, make sure you at least have a pet-specific first aid book that you can reference in the case of an emergency. These books will provide you with step-by-step instructions for dealing with pet-related emergency situations such as choking.
Pack a Leash
Even if the trail allows it and your dog is comfortable off-leash, it’s a good idea to bring a leash with you. Having a leash will ensure you’re prepared in the event you need to secure your dog, such as when you enter a leash-required zone or come in contact with a wild animal. If you’re going to be hiking at dusk or in the dark, your pup should be outfitted with a reflective or light up collar or harness and leash. This will help you keep track of your pup no matter where they roam and ensure other hikers can see them as well.
Pack Portable Water and Food Bowls
Another hiking-must have is a portable water and food bowl. Regardless of the length of hike, it’s important that your dog has access to sufficient fresh water. If you’re going on an extended hike, bringing a food bowl as well is key. Remember, if you’re going to get hungry hiking so will your dog! The great thing about the portable water and food bowls available on the market today is that many are completely collapsible, such as the SiliPet Collapsible Dog Bowl, so they lay flat in your bag, taking up minimal space
Be Aware of the Signs of Heat Stroke
If you’re hiking in extreme heat, keep a close eye on your pup for signs of heat stroke. Some of the major warning signs of heat stroke in dogs include panting, excessive drooling, little or no urine production, sudden breathing distress, and vomiting, among others. If you’re worried about the heat while hiking, choose an easy trail and take plenty of water breaks in the shade. You can also buy gear such as the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Vest that maximizes cooling through evaporation and heat reflection and the Singletrak™ Pack that allows your pup to carry their very own water supply.
Don’t Forget Poop Bags
Poop bags are one thing that many people overlook when hiking with their pup. Just like when you take your dog on a walk at home, it’s important to pick up after them. This will keep the trail clean for everyone and avoid attracting unwanted animal visitors. If you’re going on an extended hike, you’ll likely need more than one bag which why it’s great to purchase a bag holder like the Earth Rated® Dispenser that can hold an entire roll of poop bags.
Protect Your Pup’s Feet
A dog’s feet may be a bit more durable than our own, but if you’re going to be hiking on harsh terrain you might want to consider investing in a pair of booties for your pup. There are a number of boots available on the market, but each is designed to protect your dog’s feet while walking in extreme temperatures or on rough ground. If your hiking trail is going to be particularly rocky, consider testing out the Ruffwear Grip Trex Dog Boots.
Find the Right Campsite
If you decide to extend your hike into an overnight camping trip, you’ll need to make sure that you find a pet-friendly campsite. Fortunately, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as many campsites welcome families to bring their pets. If you can’t find a pet-friendly campsite you like, you might want to consider back country camping.
If you’re looking for a pet-friendly activity to partake in, hiking is one of the best options available. Because, really, is there anything better than spending time in the great outdoors with your favorite four-legged friend? We sure don’t think so! Taking the time to review these tips before hitting the trails will ensure that your hiking adventures runs smoothly.