When choosing the best hiking backpack, you should check the different types of backpacks and frames, the backpack fit, and suspension systems. If you want to select the most notable backpack, you nee [...]
20 Common Questions When Hiking with a Dog
Published: Feb 20, 2021
Hiking with a dog can be different from hiking alone. If this is your first time planning to hike with your pet, it's recommended to research and learn some tips and information. This will not only affect yourself, but also your dog.
Dogs will surely love hiking, however, you should train them before engaging in such an energy-draining activity. Also, be vigilant of the elements that surround you on the trail as they can harm your pet. Pack plenty of food and water as they will need more than usual.
Since this article will answer the common questions when hiking with a dog, we will be discussing several topics. We have organized the questions into three categories: General, Health and Safety, and Food and Water.
Dogs will absolutely enjoy hiking, however, you should consider several factors, like their size, breed, and weight. You can also hike with them overnight. Before you hike, choose a good hiking place that fits your stamina and endurance.
Will my dog enjoy hiking?
Of course! They like playing around with you, so it's a good idea for bonding. You just need to ensure that they are physically and mentally healthy while hiking. Most of us are living in urban areas, and going out to mountainous places can unplug our senses.
We can say that it gives your dog fresh surroundings and discoveries that they haven't experienced before.
Does my dog's breed matter?
Yes, however, no dog is perfect for hiking. To sum up, some dogs can withstand this activity while some are not capable of it.
Some dogs can withstand engaging in a long period of physical activities, but some can't. Small dogs are lighter, however, they may get easily tired if you bring them on a hike. They will find it difficult to perceive the elevation of unpredictable terrains if they are too small.
On the other hand, there are also factors to consider if you think that huge breeds are better than smaller ones. Large dogs are capable of seeing the road even on too much-corrugated terrains. But, they don't have similar endurance to small breeds.
A dog that weighs 25 to 50 lbs. is within a decent mass range for a hiking dog. It's also advisable you shorten their fur to avoid gathering insects or other things while you're hiking.
Can I take my dog hiking overnight?
Yes, you can, as long as both of you are capable of it and it won't put you in danger. Nighttime's quietness can add up to the fresh ambiance of your hiking place. It is indeed an ideal atmosphere for relaxation and unwinding.
However, note that a day hike is totally different from an overnight hike. You are required to add more considerations, especially regarding your gears and equipment. We suggest you gather some information from hikers who have already experienced night hiking.
Will my age or fitness level stop me from taking my dog hiking?
We can't say directly no. Since you are the only one who knows your own capabilities, you should choose your hiking place wisely. If you are physically fit, you can definitely go and hike with your dog.
Although, guarantee your ideal place before going with your dog. Some hiking spots look easy when you research them online, but beware because trails are unpredictable. Also, know if you can handle the size of your dog. You can always ask for someone to join and assist you.
There are preparations for you to observe before hiking to increase your stamina and endurance. This way, once you engage in the real action, both you and your dog are ready. Don't ever hike without working out ahead of the hiking schedule. It can over exhaust you, or worse, harm you.
Can my dog help carry items when hiking?
Yes, they surely can, and they really like to help you. Instead of carrying all of your loads, let them carry other stuff — mostly lightweight things, and prevent them from fetching overweight items.
Some packs are specifically created for dogs. To give you an idea, the ideal weight for them to carry is no more than 25 percent of their own weight. You can probably place their things inside their pack just to make sure they won't exceed the required mass.
Health and safety
There are many things you should consider before you hike. Consider whether your dog might slip off, can be harmed, or may swallow poisonous objects from hiking. In the latter case, if they are showing strange actions, like vomiting, you should immediately bring them to the vet.
We still have a lot of topics to discuss in this part of our article, aside from the abovementioned.
Is hiking with my dog safe?
If you prepare everything beforehand, then we can say that it will be safe. Although, we suggest that you arm yourselves with a complete set of gear. Always be careful in every move you make, as you can't predict what will happen. Also, avoid careless hiking as it will lead you to accidents.
Apart from using the right gears, you should also know what are some of the factors related to your activity. Read some reviews and other information about your selected hiking place. By learning about the temperature, dominant weather, wild animals, and possible terrains, you will be prepared and equipped before you hike.
What can I do if my dog slips or runs away when hiking?
Just ensure that you properly trained your dog with recall. Well-trained dogs are easy to manage and won't get harmed if they are off-leash. Dogs have a good sense of smell, which can help them find you if you're ever out of their sight but still nearby.
When asking other hikers we found that, most of the time dogs weren't harmed when they accidentally slipped. However, you should be vigilant since there could be other hikers around you. Your dog may jump on them, and/or these people may be scared of dogs.
Also, your dog may follow a trail that can lead them to dangerous areas. Or, maybe they may find an interesting animal to follow and end up in far places. Worst case scenario, you won't be able to find them, and vice versa. To palliate this issue, you can attach a GPS device to them, so if this ever happens, you won't be struggling to find them.
What if I find a tick on my dog?
Hiking places surely house a lot of animals and insects. Therefore, it is highly possible that your dog will collect ticks on their fur. Check up on them as you go along with your journey as this can result in serious illness if you just set it aside.
If you found a tick on your dog, pluck it with tweezers. Then, apply medicines like antiseptic or ointments for tick bites. Based on our research, Ixodes ticks can transmit Lyme disease, which is very dangerous for dogs.
We advise you to preserve the tick on a container to later have it checked by a medical expert or vet. That will immediately reveal if your dog is likely to experience Lyme disease.
What if my dog eats something poisonous on the trail?
After you hike, if your dog is vomiting and you don't know what they ate, we suggest that you let the vet check on them. It will probably be caused by something they swallowed on the trail. Your vet can find out how to treat your dog.
However, sometimes, it is hard to identify the cause immediately. Thus, we recommend you bring the poisonous item or tell the vet what your dog has eaten when ever possible. This way, it will be fast to look for a remedy or a way to treat it.
How do I know if my dog is getting too tired?
You'll know if they are exhausted if they are weak, panting, drooling, or any other unusual symptom you can spot. In such cases, stop, take a break, and prioritize their needs. It is better to ensure whether they are ready to engage in physical activity again before you continue.
Do I need to leave my dog on a leash while hiking?
In the sense of safety, it's recommended that you take them on a leash. There are national parks that may allow you to hike with your dog off-leash, but some also prohibit it. The most important thing is safety and obeying the rules of the hiking place.
We would like to stress that mountainous areas or hiking in the woods will expose you to many elements. Animals, plants, complicated terrains, climate, and temperature are the factors you should be attentive to. If you let your dog free to roam around, they may swallow poisonous objects, get lost, or fall.
Does my dog need a sleeping bag?
You can buy them one if you're sure to use it regularly. However, buying a sleeping bag can be costly, so be certain that you're going to utilize it. If not, you can just use fleece, a wool blanket, or a comforter that is appropriate for their size.
What kind of first aid equipment do I need to bring for my dog?
Include the materials that are commonly used for cuts, like bandages, antiseptic, swabs, antibiotic substances, meds for ticks, and tweezers. When you think about first aid, these are the basic stuff to apply to take care of an injury, cuts, or if an accident occurs.
It is recommended you consult a veterinarian on what items are in demand for a dog's first-aid treatment. Also, ask what sunscreen products for dogs you can use for your pet. Although there are products intended for dogs, it is good to consult the vet before using them.
What if my dog gets seriously injured while we're hiking?
Look up whether the hiking site you have chosen has a vet clinic nearby. It is also a smart move to know the scope of your dog's insurance. If you still don't have insurance for your pet, we suggest you purchase one.
What if my dog gets bitten by a snake?
You don't have any choice but to go to your vet immediately. They are the only doctor for your dog and know how to treat this. But, before you leave the place, use an antihistamine on your dog to lessen the allergic sensitivity.
This is where the importance of knowing whether there is a vet near the hiking place comes in. The faster you can arrive at the vet, the faster it will be treated.
Food and water
Bring plenty of food and water if you like. This kind of activity requires a lot of your energy, and the same thing goes for your dog. Prepare more than the usual amount of food they are eating at home. For water, know their size and adapt dogs' suggested whole day intake to it.
How much water should I bring?
For large breeds, an amount of around .5 to 1 ounce per pound of their weight. On the other hand, small dogs that weigh 20 lbs. and below will need 1.5 ounces per pound. All of these cover the whole day of your hiking activity.
Know their current weight, so that you can estimate their water necessities properly. It is best to bring more than needed than too little. Also, remember that day hiking can be hot and that high temperature can make you thirstier than usual.
Can I let my dog drink from a creek, pond, lake, stream, or river?
Simple answer: no. We really suggest you bring enough or more water than needed for your dog. It is very dangerous to let them drink water that can be found along the trail.
Water in hiking places did not undergo any screening process for the removal of bacteria or any dangerous organisms. Therefore, prevent your dog from drinking from natural water resources, and mostly, always avoid stagnant water. It gets more contaminated as time passes, so we don't know what bacteria it may contain.
What kind of food is best for a hiking dog?
Hiking requires more energy since it involves many physical actions. If humans are required to eat food that provides high energy, your dog also needs that. There are ideal and recommended food that can empower your dog when engaging in this adventure.
Before you hike, let your dog eat dry dog food with high protein or fats. You should also pack this kind of food for after the hike. Bear in mind that they are most likely to get hungry because this is truly a draining activity.
How much food do I need to pack for my dog?
When it comes to water and food, you should know your dog's current weight. Their mass can give you an idea of how much you should pack. For estimation, add one cup for each extra 20 pounds.
If you are preparing their food, you can also divide the amount, so that you can feed them fairly while you hike. The same thing applies to the water amount. It is a good idea to pack plenty more than the regular amount they eat. This is an enervating adventure and you will need to eat more than usual.
Does my dog need different food when hiking?
The food that they are regularly eating does not differ from the food you should pack. However, dry dog food is lighter and can be preserved better than food in a can. Besides, we recommend you pack more than enough considering the amount they normally eat.
Some types of hiking can greatly affect your preparations too. First, determine if you are going for a day hike, an overnight one, or if you're going to be camping at the place. With such details in mind, you will have an idea of how much food and water you should pack.
Day hiking is probably what most people will engage in. Either way, you will be needing more food than you are eating at home. So, just to be prepared. In case your dog may need more food than usual, we advise you to pack plenty.
Being prepared before your hike is the best way to face the difficulties you may encounter. This applies to all kinds of hiking, and most specifically if you are hiking with your dog. You are not only dealing with your necessities this time, but you should also be attentive to your dog's needs.
Besides, before you consider hiking with your pet, you should consult the vet. Ask them if your dog is capable of this kind of adventure. Also, inquire medical-related queries about your dog. There will be no vets while you're hiking, so go ahead and ask them everything you need to ask for a complete preparation.
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