Hiking and backpacking are fun. But hiking or backpacking with your dog is even better! Unfortunately, forgetting to pack the necessary equipment and gear can easily ruin this otherwise fruitful experience. For the safety, health and enjoyment of both you and your furry friend, here are 10 essential items needed for every hike with your dog (as recommended by Rover.com).
Collapsible Water Bowl and Fresh Water
You can purchase collapsible water bowls from pet stores, specialty shops and various online retailers. They’re portable, lightweight and easy to clean. Because it’s not always safe for dogs to drink directly from natural water sources like creeks and ponds, be sure to bring plenty of fresh water for both you and your furry hiking partner. You’ll both be burning a lot of energy, so bring enough water to account for the extra physical exertion.
Speaking of energy, you’ll run out of it fast if you don’t bring enough snacks to replenish your reserves. Don’t forget about your best hiking pal—dogs love (and need) snacks, too! Tip: to save room, bring snacks the two of you can share, like bananas and peanut butter.
Hiking booties are a good item to have on hand in case your dog tears his foot pad, or injures a toenail. Putting that paw in a bootie will help prevent the wound from getting debris or bacteria in it, or otherwise becoming worse. It’s often a good idea to put these on your pet as a precautionary measure anyway, if only to prevent such injuries. These can be purchased online or at your local pet or outdoors store. Tip: bring a small, dog-specific first-aid kit, too, just in case.
Even if your dog is great off-leash, trail etiquette asks that all hikers use one on their pups. Nowadays, even most dog-friendly hiking trails require leashes—it helps preserve the trail itself, and generally makes other hikers more comfortable. In the event you pass another dog on the trail, a leash helps ensure the encounter remains safe and under control.
Naturally Sourced Insect Repellent
Hiking is an easy way to pick up bugs & bug bites. Ticks can transfer a number of serious diseases to your dog, and mosquito bites can lead to deadly heartworm disease. That’s why preventing bug bites when hiking is absolutely essential. Treating your dog with a naturally sourced insecticide and repellent is the safest way to keep bugs off your pet when hiking. Choosing a natural alternative to chemical pesticides is important, as most insecticides—even those specifically marketed to dogs—contain toxins that are dangerous for people, pets and the environment.
Brush (For Removing Plants, Burrs, Etc)
If your dog gets a burr or other object stuck in their fur, you’ll need a brush on hand to remove the item. Having a foreign object lodged near their skin can make hiking an extremely uncomfortable experience for your dog.
Your dog’s exposed skin—like on their nose, lips and other hairless parts—is susceptible to sunburn. Applying sunscreen to these areas before every hike is a must. If your dog gets wet or if your hike is unusually long, you’ll likely need to apply another layer of sunscreen. Caution: only use sunscreen intended for canine use; common human sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid are toxic to dogs.
Plenty of Poop Bags
As every hiker/backpacker knows, all trash needs to be backpacked out—including your pup’s poop. The delicate ecosystems surrounding hiking trails can be easily disrupted by foreign waste like dog feces. Hiking etiquette dictates that all hikers leave no trace behind. This applies to your dog, too.
This isn’t a necessity, especially if you have plenty of room in your own pack. However, having your dog carry their own items (water bowl, snacks, booties, etc) can really help lighten the load. Make sure the pack fits your pup snug and that the weight never exceeds ⅓ of their body weight.
Okay, so this isn’t explicitly “for” your dog, but taking photos of the hiking experiences you share with your dog is something the both of you will cherish for years to come.