There are many reasons to go for a hike. Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and breathe in the fresh air. It also promotes exercise and overall good health. Hiking doesn’t just have numerous benefits for you, but also for your beloved pooch. Most dogs love the outdoors, and on a hike, they’re able to stretch their legs while exploring the world around them. But before you take your dog out on the trail, there are a few things you need to consider — and some gear you need to stock up on. Here’s everything you need for a hike with your dog.
Before you hit the trail
Make sure all your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. If you’re in a region where disease-carrying insects and wildlife run amok, ask your vet if there are special immunizations in case your dog gets bitten.
It’s also important to make sure you make sure you have all the gear and supplies a dog might need during the hike. Here are the items we recommend.
1. A strong harness
Dogs are naturally curious animals, and anything can excite them at a moment’s notice. This means you might have to pull them back if they try to chase after something in the wild.
Make sure the harness is loose enough for you to slip two fingers underneath but not loose enough that they can slip out of it. It’s also a good idea to make sure the harness has colorful material and reflective fabrics in case it gets dark while you’re hiking.
Using a collar alone might not be a good idea, as it might choke your dog, especially if it gets caught on a branch or they go bolting after something in the bushes.
2. A good leash
Make sure your leash is no longer than 6 feet. Leashes longer than 6 feet might get entangled in a bush or a low branch. It’s good to have manageable control with your leash in case you need to reign your pup back and keep them away from dangers like a narrow trail or other wild creatures. A colorful or reflective leash will also help during a hike, especially if it gets dark.
3. Dog tags and microchip
Making sure your dog has the proper identification is always important, so always check that your dog’s regular tags are attached to their collar and that the information on them is current. If you’ve changed phone numbers recently, update their tags before you hike.
Another form of identification is a microchip, a small device placed beneath a dog’s skin. Recommended by most veterinarians, a microchip ensures anyone who finds your dog can scan the chip and read your contact information.
A microchip is a permanent form of ID that will make it much easier to reunite with your dog. It can’t fall off if your dog loses their collar, unlike their regular tags.
Having both of these forms of identification is helpful in case your dog gets lost on the trail.
4. Food and water
It’s also recommended to bring food or treats that are high in protein and fats to keep your pup’s energy high.
As for water, make sure you consider the difficulty of the hike and the temperature outside. Your pup will want to drink more water than usual, as they will be expending more energy on a hike.
Timing your dog’s water breaks every 15 to 30 minutes will make sure your dog stays hydrated throughout the hike.
Don’t forget to bring a collapsible bowl, as this will help with giving your dog their food and water. These durable and lightweight bowls usually come with a loop that you can attach to your pup’s leash or the side of your hiking bag.
5. A first-aid kit
Some items you might consider putting in a first-aid kit are tweezers for tick removal, antiseptic for wounds, liquid bandages for hurt paws, and gauze for extra padding and protection around covered wounds.
Also, pack some waste bags for when your dog has to do their business. This will help keep the trail clean, as your dog’s waste is not considered part of the wild environment.
6. Weather protection
It is always important to check the weather before heading out on a hike. But sometimes, no matter how prepared you are, the weather can still be unpredictable.
For your dog, make sure you bring a few pieces of clothing that will protect them from the weather conditions. A raincoat is helpful if it starts to rain and booties are great if the trail gets abrasive or muddy.
Keeping a reflective vest or jacket will also help if it gets dark fast when you’re hiking.
Pet stores now sell backpacks for dogs for times like these. But make sure your dog is strong enough to carry it if you use one. And don’t overpack it to the point where it’s too heavy for them.
If you happen to be hiking where it’s extra sunny, consider a dog sunscreen as recommended by your veterinarian. Do not use human sunscreen on dogs.