Whether you are planning a day hike through a nearby national park or even an extended trip in the woods, it’s important to be prepared for anything before heading into the wilderness. If you’re thinking about bringing your dog with you on the hike, take a look at these tips ahead of time to ensure your trip is safe and fun for the both of you.
Ensure your dog is up for the task
Make sure that your dog is capable of the physical exertion required for a longer hike. While this can vary based on your pet’s age, weight, breed, health history and the trail you’re planning on hiking, one thing that is detrimental to all dogs is seasonal temperature. Dogs can easily overheat if they are exerting a lot of energy during hot days, so make sure the weather is warm and pleasant during your hike. It’s also a good idea to consult your vet about your dog’s limitations.
Always follow park regulations
Do your research before heading out on a hike to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules unintentionally. For example, dogs aren’t allowed in most US national parks, and even the dog-friendly trails will require a leash maximum six feet in length. Not following these rules can result in harsh fines and ruin what would otherwise be a fun-filled day for you and your pet. So, always check the rules and regulations in your area and find great dog-friendly hiking trails.
Protect your dog from parasites
While rivers and lakes can contain parasites and bacteria that could be potentially harmful to your dog, they can easily be avoided by keeping a close eye on your pet and not letting them roam around. However, ticks and fleas can be contracted quite easily, especially in the woods, which is why prevention is key. To stay one step ahead of those pesky parasites, give your dog preventive care at least 48 hours before the hike, but don’t forget to bring some additional topical treatments with you as well. You can find a lot of great dog supplies online that will help you protect your pet from these dangerous parasites.
Pack a pet first aid kit
A vet won’t be available once you’re on the trail, which is why it’s essential to make a doggie first aid kit and know how to use it. Apart from the regular items, such as scissors, tweezers, gauze pads and cold packs, don’t forget to pack hydrogen peroxide that can be used to clean a wound, as well as a soft muzzle to prevent your pet from chewing on the potential wound. It’s also important to pack any special medication your vet has given to your pet.
Bring enough food and water
Anytime you head out on a longer hike, remember that you have two mouths to feed. Since dogs have fur coats and cannot sweat like humans, they are at a higher risk of overheating. And while you might not need water for a walk around the block, it’s a good idea to bring plenty of water for the both of you when you head out on the trail. Just remember to bring a collapsible dish to pour some for your pet. Also, always bring along some dog treats for your pet to keep their energy levels high during a long hike, as they need calories to stay energized, just like you.
Think about a doggie pack
While it’s not the only gear your hiking buddy needs, a doggie backpack truly separates going on a walk from going on a hike, and it can also help you take some load off your back, as your pet can easily carry their own accessories and supplies. Although it can be easy to get distracted by features and designs, getting the fit right and getting your dog accustomed are the most important tasks. However, a top handle can be a very handy feature for keeping your dog close during trail encounters and creek crossings.
Dogs can be great company during outdoor adventures, but only if you plan accordingly. Thankfully, these incredible tips are filled with everything you need to know, bring and do to optimize the fun for you and your beloved pet.