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Do you love the outdoors, and can’t wait to hit your next trail? That’s probably something that you and your pooch have in common. There may be no better bonding opportunity for the two of you than a hiking adventure, which will satisfy your itch for beautiful sights and fresh air.
But venturing into the great outdoors with your dog requires more exhaustive preparation than if you had human company. Below are some essentials that you should pack for a dog-friendly hike that’s fun, safe, and hassle-free:
1) A Dog Collar with an ID Tag
First and foremost, sturdy dog collars fitted with identification tags are must-haves for hikers and their canine companions. They’ll be critical to ensuring your dog’s safety and their visibility on the hiking trail.
Your dog’s collar should be comfortable, yet secure, and the ID tag should clearly display their name along with your contact information. This information is invaluable in the unfortunate event that your dog gets lost, providing a quick and easy way for someone to identify and return your beloved pet. In a wide expanse of wilderness, having this basic, yet crucial accessory can make a world of difference to your hiking experience.
2) A Leash
Safety on the trail is paramount, and it begins with a reliable leash. This tool will help you maintain control of your dog, especially in unfamiliar surroundings where you might encounter steep terrain and foreign wildlife.
Some trails require dogs to be leashed, so having one at the ready ensures that you’re respecting park rules and the comfort and safety of other hikers.
3) Water and a Collapsible Water Bowl
Hydration is just as important to dogs as it is to humans, especially on hikes. Just like humans, dogs can get dehydrated, particularly on hot days. Pack plenty of water and a collapsible water bowl to keep your dog hydrated at regular intervals.
4) Dog Food and Treats
Whenever your dog exerts energy, they’ll need sufficient replenishment. Don’t forget to pack enough dog food, plus some extra, for the duration of the hike. It would also be a good idea to bring a supply of treats, as these can motivate your dog to clear hurdles on the trail with you.
5) Dog Booties and/or Paw Wax
Not all terrains are created equal, and what might seem a comfortable path to a human hiker’s feet can be harsh on a dog’s paws. Whether they’re facing the jagged edges of a rocky road, the burning hot sand in summer, or icy, cold surfaces in winter, your dog’s paws could use some extra protection.
Dog booties or paw wax will provide a safe barrier against rough surfaces and help prevent injuries. Just remember to let your dog get accustomed to wearing booties or having wax applied on their paws before the hike.
6) A Dog Backpack
On longer hikes, your canine companion can take on a more active role by carrying a portion of their own supplies using a dog backpack. Dog backpacks are designed specifically for a pooch’s comfort and ergonomics, with padded straps and a balanced structure to distribute weight evenly.
Balance the backpack’s load on both sides and keep it light, ensuring that it does not exceed 25 percent of your dog’s body weight. Also, ensure that your dog is properly trained to carry their own backpack well before the hike begins. Start with short walks and an empty pack, then gradually increase the weight and distance your dog covers.
7) A Dog-Specific First Aid Kit
You’ll definitely want to be prepared for medical emergencies, especially in an outdoor setting where veterinary help may not be immediately accessible. A first-aid kit tailored for dogs can be a lifesaver in such scenarios.
These kits typically include essentials like bandages that won’t stick to fur, a pet thermometer, tweezers for tick removal, a pair of scissors, antiseptic wipes, and a first-aid reference book for pets. Bring one with you, along with any medication your dog typically takes.
8) Tick Repellent and a Tick Key
Ticks are not only irritating to your dog, but they can also carry and transmit harmful diseases like Lyme disease. Unfortunately, your dog might encounter them on the trail if they brush against tall shrubs or bunches of grass where ticks may be hiding.
Knowing this, you should bring some vet-approved tick repellent with you on your hike. You should also consider carrying a tick key, or a small device designed to remove ticks safely without leaving any part of them behind. On top of keeping these two items on hand, be sure to check your dog’s ears, armpits, and groin thoroughly during and after your hike.
9) Waste Bags
Always carry a sufficient supply of waste bags to pick up after your dog when they relieve themselves on the trail. Biodegradable bags will prove to be useful and environmentally-friendly options.
Some hiking areas may not have waste bins along the route, so be prepared to carry the used bags until you find a suitable disposal point. This not only preserves the trail’s cleanliness but also protects local wildlife that might be harmed by ingesting waste or non-biodegradable material. Remember, practicing good trail etiquette by picking up after both yourself and your dog makes the hiking experience more enjoyable for everyone.
10) A Dog Jacket
Even with natural fur coats, dogs can still be affected by cold weather. If you’re hiking in chilly conditions, a dog jacket will help keep your pooch warm and comfortable. It will come in especially handy for short-haired breeds or smaller dogs that might struggle to retain body heat.
Dog jackets come in various materials, with some offering water resistance for rainy hikes and others providing insulation for colder environments. Take your dog’s measurements and buy a jacket that fits comfortably. You’ll also want to introduce the jacket to your dog in a familiar environment before the hike begins. These ten essential items should make it easy for both you and your furry friend to enjoy your hiking experience with full peace of mind. Come to the trail prepared, and you’ll have a paw-some adventure you’ll never forget!
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