Hiking is one of nature’s best pastimes. You can get away from the city and reconnect with nature. For pet lovers, this is also a great way to exercise your animal while exploring nature with your furry friend. Whether you are hiking with your dog or your cat (yes, we said cat), there are a few guidelines to consider before hitting the trails.
Find pet-friendly trails
Before you can hit the trails with your pet, you have to ensure the trails you are visiting are pet friendly. Check out websites and do a little research. Also, take your animal’s fitness into consideration. If the trail is difficult and your dog is a couch potato, it might not be a very fun hike for either of you. You can start on simpler trails and work up to more difficult trails.
Bring plenty of water
Hydration is crucial to the health of both you and your pet. You can pack water in your backpack as well as your dog’s pack. You can also pack extra food and a collapsible bowl for drinking for your pet in their pack. Just make sure the pack isn’t too heavy: a good rule of thumb for a dog is 25 percent of their body weight.
Leash and harness
While some dogs will come when you call, it is always a safe practice to hike with your pets on a leash. Dogs are predatory creatures, and could bolt instinctively even if they are well trained. Avoid longer leashes so your pet doesn’t become entangled or you lose control. Also, it is better for your pet to walk on a harness rather than a collar. It will give you better control, reduce the possibility of escape and be more comfortable for your pet. You should be sure that your dog or cat also has ID tags and is microchipped in case they get lost during the hike.
Bring a first-aid kit
Accidents happen. That’s why you need to be prepared for you and your pet. Be sure your kit includes bandages, cleansers and disinfectants, gauze pads and rolls, aspirin and other first aid items.
Pick up after your pet
We see it all of the time: people don’t pick up after their pets. We understand that you might not want to carry pet waste throughout your hike, but leaving it on the trail is unacceptable. You can dispose of pet waste in plastic baggies or bury it off the trail. If you choose to bury it, be sure you are at least 200 feet off the trail and away from any camps or water sources.
Treat your pet for fleas and ticks prior to your great outdoor adventure. Also, keep in mind that other animals will be on these trails. Protect against all parasites, like heartworms. You can pick the medicine up at your pet store or from your veterinarian.
Stay on the trail
While we are all for being wild at heart, getting off the trail can be dangerous for you and your pet. You could get lost or encounter potentially dangerous animals.
Check your pet
After you have finished your hike, check your pet for fleas, ticks or wounds. It may be a good idea to give them a bath, as they can brush against poisonous plants, like poison oak, which can be transferred to you.
Ready to start hiking? Don’t forget your gear! At the very least, you’ll want a pair of durable and comfortable boots and a rugged backpack, like those sold at trusted retailers like Carhartt.