Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with your four-legged friend. In addition to exercise, a trek on the trails can strengthen the bond with your dog and provide valuable sensory enrichment (smells and sounds and chipmunks, oh my!)
Ready to get out and get moving? Before you do, make sure you’re properly prepared. Hiking with dogs requires some specialized supplies to ensure a safe, comfortable outing.
Read on for 10 products you won’t want to leave home without, as well as some important safety tips.
Dog Hiking Safety Tips
Hiking with your dog may require some adjustments to your usual routine. When planning a hike, consider the following tips from Dr. Karen Stasiak, a veterinarian at Zoetis.
Make sure your dog is fit enough. If your dog doesn’t regularly join you for hikes, make sure he’s up to the task, advises Stasiak. Check in with your veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy enough for the workout.
Prep for parasites. Dogs that will be exploring with you on the trails should be up-to-date on vaccines and flea, tick, and heartworm preventives, says Stasiak.
Pick dog-friendly routes. “Try to pick shady trails with soft terrain, and avoid paths littered with sharp rocks and any surface that gets very hot,” says Stasiak.
Take plenty of water breaks. Make sure to stop regularly along the way to allow your dog to drink water. But never allow your dog to drink from standing water. “It often contains parasites and other bacteria, which can be harmful or fatal to your companion,” adds Stasiak.
Work up to longer hikes. As for duration, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If your dog is new to hiking, plan a short trip and slowly work your way up to longer treks. Regardless of fitness level, scale back your hike on hot days.
Inspect your dog when you’re done. Once in the car or upon arrival home, inspect your pup! “Make sure to thoroughly check your pet for ticks, cuts, burrs, and any other abnormalities,” says Stasiak. “If you find a tick on your dog, don’t panic—but do remove it right away.”
10 Must-Have Hiking Products
From basic essentials to just-in-case safety gear, these handy products make hiking with your dog a walk in the park.
Fresh water – and plenty of it – should be at the top of your packing list. Just like us, dogs need to drink more water when exercising, especially when the weather is warm.
To save space, consider a bottle-and-bowl combo, such as the Highwave AutoDogMug. The crafty design provides a comfortable way for your dog to hydrate without wasting precious H2O. To fill the bowl, simply give the bottle a squeeze; when your dog is done drinking, any remaining water will drain back into the bottle and can be enjoyed later.
- Fits most bike and car cup holders
- Carrying straps attach to wrist or backpack
- Made from BPA-free plastic
Not every dog will tolerate footwear. But if your pup is open to the idea, booties can be a great way to protect his paws from rough terrain and hot pavement, while also providing traction on slippery surfaces.
These waterproof boots from QUMY are particularly popular among hikers. With a rugged, anti-slip sole, they’re designed to stand up to everything from sharp thorns to icy trails. When the sun goes down, the reflective straps add visibility.
- Available in 7 sizes
- Reflective straps for easy visibility
Even low-key hikes on familiar trails can be hazardous. Make sure you’re prepared to troubleshoot cuts, sprains, thorns, and other sticky situations with a pet first aid kit.
It’s easy to assemble your own. However, if you’d prefer to purchase a preassembled first aid kit, we love this one from Kurgo. Extremely compact, it squeezes 50 pieces into a durable, easily packable pouch. In addition to the basics (tweezers, antiseptic wipes, and gauze) it also includes helpful supplies such as a first aid guide, a thermal foil emergency blanket, and an instant cold pack.
- Includes 50 pieces
- Durable twill case
- Interior zip pockets
Don’t forget to pack energizing snacks for you and your dog! We love the brand new Supplement Bars from the Anxious Pet because they combine the tastiness of treats (peanut butter and banana flavor—yum!) with all the health benefits of supplements in a substantial and innovative bar form.
Made from wholesome, natural ingredients and formulated by veterinarians, they’re available in four varieties to support your individual pup’s wellbeing. For hiking, we especially love the Hip & Hop Bars, which contain glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin to promote healthy joints and reduce inflammation. If your pup needs a little help relaxing while road-tripping to the trail, consider the Relax & Roll Bars. Infused with melatonin and available with or without CBD, they can reduce anxiety-related behaviors and keep your hike calm.
- No grains, gluten, or GMOs
- Handmade using natural and organic ingredients
- Individually wrapped and easy to pack and carry
Want to give your pup a job? A dog backpack will allow him to carry some of his own hiking gear.
Made from breathable, lightweight mesh, Outward Hound’s Crest Stone Explore Pack is ideal for warm-weather hikes. Two saddle-style storage bags have room for the essentials, while adjustable belly straps ensure a proper, balanced fit. We also love the cheery dayglow color, which makes it easier to spot your pup among the trees.
- Available in two sizes
- Lightweight mesh construction
- Easy to see neon color
If your Chihuahua becomes injured or tired during a hike, it’s easy to carry him to safety. Large breeds, however, are much trickier. A stranded German Shepherd will likely require a call to emergency services.
Lightweight and ergonomically designed, Airlift emergency harnesses allow you to transport dogs up to 150 pounds on your back, even if you’re alone. The harness fits into an 8 oz. sack, making it easy to keep in the bottom of your backpack (where you’ll hopefully never need it).
- Available in sizes medium (20-45 pounds) through extra large (70-150 pounds)
- Additional accessories available for giant breed dogs
Ideally, dogs should be kept on-leash during hikes. But accidents (aka squirrels) happen, and many dogs can’t resist an impromptu chase. And of course, some pet parents may feel comfortable letting experienced, well-trained hiking dogs explore on their own.
This is where GPS tracking comes in. For casual strolls, an inexpensive Bluetooth tracker may do the trick. These devices clip to your pet’s collar and connect to your phone, allowing you to track dogs over short distances.
If you’re a serious hiker, consider a more sophisticated device, such as Findster. Waterproof and highly sensitive, it has a 3-mile tracking range. The system communicates with GPS satellites, meaning you’re covered even in remote areas without cell service.
Regardless of your GPS device, always make sure your dog has an up-to-date microchip and traditional ID tags. Should you become separated, this is his ticket home.
- 3-mile tracking range
- No cell coverage needed
Overheating is a major concern when hiking in warm weather. Heat stroke is a dangerous, potentially deadly condition, and dogs should be closely monitored (or kept in the air conditioning!) on hot days.
If the weather isn’t extreme and you know your dog is up for a summer hike, a cooling vest can help keep him extra comfortable. Constructed from breathable mesh, Ruffwear’s Swamp Cooler vest has a lightly colored outer layer that reflects heat and provides wearable “shade.” To use the vest, simply dip it in water, wring it out, and place it on your pup – as the water evaporates, it will provide a cooling benefit that mimics sweating.
- Available in 5 sizes
- Easy-off side release buckles
- Reflective trim
Don’t forget your poo bags! Picking up after your dog is common courtesy around the neighborhood, but it’s also important when at the park or on the trail. Dog waste contains two types of pollutants–nutrients and pathogens–and can compromise both bodies of water and our drinking water supply, warns the EPA.
These waste bags from Doggy Do Good were designed with Mother Nature in mind. Made from cornstarch, they’re 100 percent biodegradable and break down within 90 days. And not to worry–just like your standard bags, they’re totally leak-proof.
- 100% biodegradable
- Fit in standard dispensers
Muddy paws and wet, stinky fur are telltale signs of a fun day—but your car may disagree.
A back seat cover will protect your car seats from post-adventure messes, as well as everyday occurrences such as dog hair, slobber, and sharp nails. This waterproof model from Active Pets is made from plush, durable, no-slip materials, meaning your pup is as pampered as your car seats. It can be used as a “hammock” to provide full protection to your back seat; as a bench-style cover if people are sitting with your pet; or as a cargo liner.
- Fits any car or SUV with bench-style seating
- Crafted from waterproof cotton
- Non-slip surface
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