Stepping into nature with your four-legged companion can be extremely fulfilling. It will be impossible to tell who enjoys it more, you or your pet.
Hiking with dogs is particularly special as they relish long walks with exciting smells. Hiking can also be an excellent way for you to bond with your pet, and it will push you to get out there and go that extra mile.
However, this can only be a rewarding experience if you are well-prepared. Your pet, like you, can quickly tire. They, too, are susceptible to heat strokes. Pets are also at the risk of trail hazards such as steep or uneven landscapes and aggressive wildlife.
So, here is a list for you of the things to remember to ensure your and your pet’s safety without compromising on the fun.
1. Ensure that your Pet is Fit Enough to Hike
Just as you wouldn’t run a marathon without training, neither should your pet. Your pet should work on muscle strength before engaging in strenuous activity to avoid soreness and injury. Begin with a short, incline-free hike of no more than an hour.
Keep an eye on your pet’s energy level during and after the exercise. Keep adding more time and difficulty gradually. While on the path, follow your pet’s lead; if they stop, let them rest and make sure they have loads of water.
Use caution and avoid bringing pets that aren’t fit for hiking. When factors such as breed, size, personality, and age are considered, not every pet makes good hiking companions.
Some pets may find navigating steep and uneven terrain difficult and dangerous. Hiking is a strenuous activity that should not be attempted by pets and people who cannot handle it.
2. Plan for the Weather
Consider the weather conditions when and where you plan to hike with your dog. Plan for everything in advance. If the forecast predicts freezing temperature, bring cooling gear, such as an insulated jacket or a cooling vest.
This is specifically essential for pets with thin coats. When hiking on snow, carry cold weather boots, preventing ice from clogging between paw pads and toes. But keep in mind that ear tips, noses, and paws can all get frostbite.
On a warm sunny day, get sunscreen for your pet to avoid sunburn. We recommend hiking during the coldest parts of the day, such as the morning and evening hours. Bring plenty of water for your pet while hiking, whether hot or cold.
3. Pack Pet Food and Water
Your goal may be to travel light, but you should attempt to bring everything necessary when it comes to hiking supplies for your pet. While on a hike, dry pet food or treats are the easiest to pack and carry. Keep energy bars in your backpack for them to replenish their energy levels.
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Bring plenty of water for your pet to drink and a collapsible water bowl or water bottle so they can drink it. Allowing your dog to drink from streams, rivers, or standing water can spread waterborne pathogens.
If you’re going on a long hike and won’t be able to carry enough water for your dog, bring a portable water filter or water purifying tablets with you.
4. Respect the Hiking Environment
Remember that your hiking trip should not come at the inconvenience of others. Keep your pet leashed if they have a tendency for violence. Also, pick up after your pet on hiking trails.
It shows respect for the environment and your fellow hikers. Ideally, you should use pet waste bags and discard them in trash cans. Or bury the pet waste away from trails, water sources, and campsites.
Although some hiking trails provide biodegradable pet waste bags, it may be easier and more efficient to buy them ahead of time at a pet supply store.
5. Vaccinations and Parasite Preventatives
A hiking trip poses multi-folds of risks for your pet, and you need to be prepared for every one of them. Talk to your veterinarian to ensure that your pet has received all necessary vaccinations for an outside trip.
Your pet may require additional vaccinations if you intend to hike in certain areas. Fleas, mosquitoes and ticks can also harm your pet because they carry dangerous pathogens. Diseases such as heartworm are transmitted through mosquitoes and Lyme disease from ticks.
However, numerous parasite preventatives are available. Based on where you live, your hiking plans, and other pets in your home, your veterinarian can recommend which parasite preventatives are best for your pet.
Over to you…
Follow these tips to ensure your pet’s safety. By planning ahead of time and assisting your pet in physically preparing for hiking, you and your companion will be able to enjoy your trail adventure.