Editor's note: This post was originally published on July 26, 2017
Photo credits: @palmettomoonpointers
Hiking with your dog is fun and rewarding, but there are a few essentials to keep in mind before getting that tail on the trail! Before you head out, do your research. Make sure the area you're traveling to allows dogs and find out what their leash laws are. Look up the weather and trail conditions. To help you better prepare for the adventure ahead, here’s a list of the necessities your dog should never hike without.
Do not ever hike without having a way to keep your dog hydrated. The general rule of thumb for a dog on a daily basis is 1 ounce of water per pound of their body weight. When hiking, you need to increase that amount depending on how strenuous the activity and how hot it is. Keep in mind, if you're thirsty, usually your dog is, too. Don't let them drink too much too fast or they could become nauseated. Always bring a container to give them water from (like a packable dog bowl). Offer water throughout the hike to make sure your dog has the opportunity to stay hydrated.
#2: Basic First Aid Kit
Dogs can get into all kinds of mischief, so it's important to keep some basic first aid essentials with you. Keep Benadryl tablets, dog aspirin, tick tweezers, dog wound spray, gauze, and vet tape in your or your dog's pack. Consult your vet to talk about safe doses of pills and see if they have any special recommendations for your first aid kit based on your pup. Kurgo's 50-piece Dog First Aid Kit is a great item to keep on hand. Keeping your dog current on their vaccinations also helps keep them healthy in the outdoors.
#3: A Leash
Even if you are hiking on a trail with no leash laws, it's important to always keep a leash in hand. Especially if you're hiking in a new place, you can never be sure how your dog will handle the wild. A way of restraining your dog helps provide a safe environment for all the animals and people on the trail. When a dog roams free there is a higher risk of them chasing wildlife, approaching people who do not want to be approached, finding/eating unwanted items, putting themselves in danger or getting injured. If your trail requires a leash, keep them leashed. If it doesn't, consider how trail trained your dog is. Even if your dog is the most obedient dog you know, still keep that leash close just in case.
#4: Tags or Microchip
Dogs like to wander. If you aren't going to keep your dog leashed, make sure there is a way to connect them to you if they end up running off and getting lost.
#5: Trail Treats
Just like human hikers bring trail mix or snacks to refuel, dogs need treats to refuel, as well. Go for treats that are nutrient-rich and high in protein. The more active the dog, the more refueling they'll need. Always offer water with treats.
#6: Poop Bags
It is common trail etiquette to clean up after your dog. Nobody wants to be hiking along a beautiful trail to look down and see they stepped in what your dog left. Carry poop bags or a duty bag in your pocket or pack. Follow the "leave no trace" and pick up that poop.
Now that you're prepared for hitting the trail with your furry best friend, get out there and have fun!
Miranda lives in Utah with her Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix, Loki. Whether it's hiking, camping, kayaking, exploring, or traveling, they spend a lot of time in the outdoors together. Besides being outside, she enjoys writing and taking pictures.
For a complete list of dog gear, check out our Dog Hiking Checklist!