Aside from being a great mental and physical exercise for you and your pet, hiking together is one of the best ways to bond and enjoy nature together. But because pets aren’t built the same way as humans, taking them to hike will require preparation. For one, you need to keep them safe throughout the hike and protect them against heat stroke and exhaustion.
Consider these tips before you head out with your pet on your first or next hiking adventure:
Assess Your Pet’s Health
You know your pet better than anyone else, which means can tell whether your pet is healthy enough to hike. Keep in mind that not all pets make suitable hiking companions, so check their breed, age, size, and personality.
Additionally, if you want your pet to carry hiking equipment, train them well prior to the hike. Start by putting light packs on their back and taking short walks. If you see your pet comfortably moving around with the load, add more weight as you go along. Ideally, dogs with tiptop physical conditions can carry loads up to 25% of their body weight.
It’s best to consult your vet months or weeks before the hike and ask their opinion about your pet’s health condition. Ask if they’re healthy enough to carry a pack when hiking, especially if they’re small-breed or have limited physical capabilities.
Keep Your Pet Leashed and Stay On Designated Trails
Reach out to the hiking trail you want to visit and ask if dogs are allowed. Many national and state parks actually don’t allow dogs, so call to know beforehand.
After finding a dog-friendly trail, make it a habit to keep your dog on a leash. This isn’t required by law, but it’s always a good idea to leash your dog for their own and everyone else’s protection. The outdoors might overstimulate your dog, and keeping them next to you on a leash will help them stay calmer and more relaxed.
During your hike, don’t stray from designated trails, and always keep an eye on your dog. Regardless of how trained and friendly your fur baby is, don’t let them out of your sight. Between poisonous plants and wild animals, making sure your dog is close to you at all times prevents any mishaps and accidents.
Let Your Pet Take Breaks
Stop frequently along the trail and offer your pet water and treats. Similar to humans, pets are also at risk of heat stroke, especially when out on hot days for long periods. If your pet pants excessively, wet their nose and move to a shaded area.
Avoid feeding your pet right before or after hiking, as this can make them sick. Instead, feed them at least an hour before and 30 minutes after the hike.
Prioritize keeping your pet safe around water sources. Never allow them to drink from or swim in unsafe water sources to prevent them from being sick caused of algae or harmful bacteria. When hiking in remote areas and don’t have access to clean water, bring a portable water purifier.
Pick Up After Your Pet
Respect the environment by picking up after your pet when hiking. Invest in pet waste bags and throw them away in trash cans or bury them at least 200 feet away from the trails, campsites, and water sources. Some hiking trails provide biodegradable pet waste bags, but it’s more convenient to purchase them in advance.
Pack Pet Essentials and Supplies
Hiking with a pet means bringing plenty of pet essentials. It’s always better to bring more than less — how do you think your pet will feel if you run out of treats in the middle of the hike?
Make sure to carry the following when hiking with your pet:
- Collapsible food and water bowls for pet
- Disposable waste bags
- Pet food and treats
- Pet Leashes
- Pet first aid kit
- Pet insect repellent
- Protective pet clothing and booties
- Safe drinking water
When hiking with your pet for the first time, we highly recommend bringing a hiking backpack. For instance, Ibiyaya’s Two-tier Pet Backpack is designed to keep your pet comfortable and safe during hikes because of its water-repellant and rip-resistant fabric and ventilation holes.
A cat hiking backpack also lets your pet rest and puts your mind at ease, knowing they can’t wander off. It also makes hiking more convenient as you can stash all of your essentials in one place.
Preparation is Key
Hiking with your pet is a rewarding experience that creates lasting memories. The only caveat is to be well-prepared so your pet stays safe and gets to enjoy your outdoor adventure!