Nice weather is at our doorstep (at least we hope so) and with the sun shining more often and temperatures rising, nature lovers feel the itch to get outside . Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a novice, sharing this passion with your four-legged friend makes it an even more enjoyable hobby. You probably already have a list of the hiking items you need on the trails, but if you’re planning on taking your pooch along, he’ll also need a few things. We’ve prepared a list of 5 essentials for hiking dogs. Enjoying the great outdoors while staying safe will be much easier if you’re well prepared!
1. A Good Leash
Most trails require your doit can be tempting to let him run like the wind, freely and happily, it may cause you more trouble than joy. For the safety of your dog, other hikers and out of respect for the surrounding flora and fauna, keeping your fluffy friend on a leash is the best option. Choose a strong but comfortable one, long enough for a little freedom while allowing good control. In general, a harness is better for trail expeditions. It avoids putting pressure on the neck and it is safer than a collar, which can easily get stuck in a branch.
2. Water and Treats
It may seem obvious that you need to bring water, but it’s not that easy to plan which amount your dog will need. Rule number one: never let your pet drink stagnant water. Puddles, ponds and even lakes, can be home to bacteria and parasites that can be dangerous for your faithful companion. Recommendations vary greatly on how much water your pooch really needs. Some are based on the animal’s weight, others say hiking dogs should drink every fifteen minutes, while others suggest a specific number of millilitres per hour of physical activity (about 240 ml/h). It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the info available. Common sense remains your best ally! Offer your dog water regularly and be on the lookout for thirst signals (fast panting, signs of fatigue, dry snout, etc.). If you’re leaving for the day, you can bring a water filter as a backup. Unless your dog is trained to drink from a « human » bottle, folding bowls are available and are an awesome and practical option. They are affordable, they take up little space and are easy to carry along. Any good hike requires one or more snack break to stay energized! If you feel hungry, chances are your dog also need to stop for a bite. A good supply of Crocx quality treats will provide the fuel he needs to keep going.
3. First Aid Kit
We don’t like to think about it, but reality is, your dog could get hurt on the trails. Therefore, a first-aid kit is a must! Several different ones are available in pet stores or online. You can customize them according to your pet’s needs (for example, by including his meds if he takes any). At a minimum, it should contain tweezers, peroxide, scotch tape, bandages and scissors. It’s also recommended to include an old (but clean) sock that can be used with adhesive tape if your dog injures his leg or paws. Also keep your vet’s number in the kit, for guidance in case of a serious injury.
4. Poop Bags and Trowel
Even in the woods, you have to pick up after your dog! Poop bag rolls are ideal to make sure you don’t leave any unwanted traces behind. In some parks or trails, it is allowed to burry your pet’s poop. That’s why a small trowel is so useful! Be sure to dig away from trails or water sources. The hole should be at least 15 cm deep. A clean trail makes it more enjoyable for everyone!
5. Bug Spray and Bear Bell
The number one enemy of hikers right now: ticks. We hear or read about them almost daily in the media. While there is no need to fall into a collective madness, it is a threat that should be taken into consideration when hiking. Preventive treatment is available for dogs and is the best way to protect your pet. Check with your veterinarian for more information. You should always inspect your pup after a hike. If you find a tick, remove it with a pair of tweezers (pssstt…you have one in your first aid kit). To keep other insects away, a natural insect repellent is an environmentally friendly and safe choice. Finally, mosquitoes aren’t the only ones who like to tag along on the trails… After all, wild animals such as bears and porcupines are sharing their habitat with us! Two essentials: a bear bell… and good recall! Maybe that last one can’t be carried in your backpack, but it sure is important!
Voilà! You are ready for adventure! Happy hiking!