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Walking, Hiking and Camping with your Dog

By Jeni Published: May 9, 2010


Before you go on a big hike, make sure you AND your dog are ready.  Just because your dog is a dog, it doesn't mean that they are hiking-ready.  (I'm assuming that as the human counterpart of the team, you can get yourself ready for a hike!)

Start out  ahead of time by walking your dog and increasing the distance  your dog can go.  This way, you will help your dog be ready for camping, or for a hike for the day.  If properly prepared, your dog can even carry it's own supplies.    

Be sure that you carry with you water and a dish of some sort for your dog.  You cannot count on running across drinkable water even when on a hike or camping ground. Pet stores carry portable bowls just for this purpose.  Personally, I have a collapsable bowl that hooks to my backpack with a clip.

I keep water in my backpack, and can open the dish in about one second.  My dogs don't like to drink water out of a bottle, although some dogs are ok with that!

Dehydration and being overheated is a HUGE issue when you have your dog on a walk or hike. Heat stroke can cause death if not addressed immediately.  If you know the area you are going to, try to plan your hike so that you cross some water.  If your dog overheats, you can have an emergency situation in no time flat.  If you are near water, like a creek, shallow river or lake, take a break when you can and let your dog walk or play in the water for a while.  Dogs cool off from the bottom up.  That means if they walk in the water and cool off their legs and belly, they will be able to cool down much faster than trying to pour water on them.  If it is hot outdoors, allow your dog to play in the water and rest for a while.  My dogs have long coats, so if they soak themselves down, they will stay cooler until the next resting point.  Take an extra leash with you in case you lose one, break one or need to hook 2 together in order to tie temporarily for safety reasons.

The next important thing to do if you are hiking a long distance or camping, is to remember to take a serving of your dog's food with you.  If you are blown off course and have to spend the night on a trail, your dog will need energy from food that they are accustomed to without having any digestive issues.

Third, if you are camping, be sure you take along a first aid kit for your dog.  It's always a good idea to have a first aid kid in the car... but if you have an emergency while hiking, it doesn't do any good to have it back in the car!  Therefore, it's a prudent idea to take along a Hiking First Aid Kit.  The items in a hiking first aid kit should be small enough to be portable.  A small tote that hooks to your beltloop, or can slip into a dog's pack is about all you need for a single emergency. A first aid kit to take on your hike should include the basics you would need in the event of an injury to your dog.  Things to include would be: A Leatherman-type of tool has multiple uses, has a small knife, small plier, small scissors, etc.  This is essential for pulling a thorn from a paw pad or dislodging a fish hook or wire;  a long strip of fabric, like felt about 36" x 1" long to use as a temporary muzzle, several 4x4 gauze squares, a roll of gauze or "vet wrap" (which is like human coband - a stretchy roll of material that sticks to itself"); Benadryl, a medication to be used in the event of bee sting; small packet or tube of triple antibiotic cream (not ointment), sanitizing gel, an inexpensive rain poncho,  a small card with your ID, your vet's name and phone number and emergency contact number.  What you are trying to do with a hiking first aid kit is take care of an urgent problem until you can get to a vet.  This would be things like pulling a thorn out of a paw pad or controlling bleeding, and simple emergencies until you can get to the vet.  The "extras"  like a thermometer, more supplies for bandaging, scissors and so on can remain in the "regular" first aid kit at the campsite or your car.

Taking a first aid course for your dog is a great idea, having your dog trained to "come" when you call is a basic necessity.

The idea of getting away is a fun time for you and your dog.  The more prepared you are for the unexpected, the more successful this time will be!

ADDITIONAL INFO:  If you are interested in more detailed information, please email me at and ask me for "Hiking with your Dog".  I will email to you a list of basic first aid kit contents; a short document on trail ettiquette when hiking with your dog, and information about a local CPR for pets and first aid class for you to take to be prepared for dog/cat emergencies.

Happy Hiking!

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