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Best Hiking Gear For Dogs:
Keep Your Canine Hiking Companion
Safe And Comfy

By Diane Spicer

Do you have the best hiking gear for dogs?

The stuff that fits your style of hiking as well as your dog?

Keep reading for tips on the gear you need to keep your trail buddies who just happen to be dogs not only safe and comfy, but well behaved in human and animal trail traffic.

Some of these links are affiliate links, so Hiking For Her may receive a small amount of your purchase price without costing you extra.

Do you hike with your canine companion(s)? Choose the best hiking gear for your hiking dogs with these Hiking For Her tips. #hiking #hikingdog #backpackingdogs #doghikinggear

Hiking gear for dogs:

It's up to you to navigate safely, and to train your dog(s) for safe water crossings, proper pacing through uneven terrain, and to respond immediately - every time - to voice commands when trail hazards appear.

  • No amount of gear is going to do that for you.
  • Treats may help ;)

But there is technology to make hiking as safe as possible for dogs.

Let's start with a quick look at inexpensive layers of protection you can provide for your best trail buddy.

Sensitive, vulnerable areas

You stuff your feet into rugged trail footwear.

Your dog?

Kinda vulnerable to cuts, abrasions, splinters, jagged rocks - ouch!

Apply an impermeable layer of this paw protective wax, be sure to distract her while it dries (no licking!), and know that she has a barrier against cold, wet, icy, hot, sandy or sharp trail hazards.

You should also protect delicate tissues (nose and tender paw pads) with a barrier like this one, especially early in the hiking season.

  • Dry, cracked tissues are prone to infection

And yes, just in case you're wondering, dog sunscreen is a real thing.

  • If your dog has a short coat, apply this to prevent burning the sun exposed tender skin on her back and legs
  • No pigment around eyes, ears or lips? Coat those areas, too.

Safe tick removal from your dog
(or yourself)

Ticks are more than a nuisance, they're a vector for diseases like these.

When your dog brings home a tick that is still crawling around, it endangers you and your family if it drops off and seeks a new host.

  • Give your dog a thorough going over when you get off the trail.

But when you find a tick attached or burrowed into your dog, it's time to take immediate action.

The Tick Key is the tool you need, because it uses a forward leverage motion to get the tick out of your dog's skin without you having to touch the nasty little thing.

AND you won't squish the tick, making the spread of disease causing organisms in the tick's saliva less likely.

  • So it's a safer maneuver for both your pet and yourself than the old tweezers + petroleum jelly approach.

Trail tip:

Attach this durable little device to a carabiner on your backpack or your dog's collar during tick season. 

Visible safety

Nite Ize Nitehowl Rechargeable LED Safety Necklace | REI Co-op

If you're going to allow off leash exploration, make your hiking dog find-able with a rechargeable LED safety necklace like this one.

It's less likely than a hanging light to get caught on vegetation.

Even if you're a dedicated day hiker, there will be dimly lit rocky overhangs, dense thickets of brush, or longer than expected days on the trail. This LED necklace to easily catch your eye will prevent mishaps.

Carry a canine first aid kit like this one

Hiking gear for dogs:

The decision to purchase a doggie backpack might be easy to make if your dog needs a lot of food, water or other supplies on a backpacking trip.

Your hiking backpack was chosen with not only volume, but comfort and versatility in mind.

Same idea here.

Hiking with dogs

You already know about the hiking ten essentials for yourself, but you can modify the list quite easily to safeguard the well being of your hiking dog:

  • extra food
  • extra water (see below)
  • extra "clothing" like this dog jacket
  • first aid (see below)

Pooch hydration

An important way to make sure your dog is comfortable during a long hike is to keep her well hydrated.

  • It may be tough to tell when she needs to drink, so heed these signs of dog dehydration, including loss of energy and lack of appetite.

Some dogs refuse to drink from a source of flowing water (don't ask me, I don't get it either), so bringing along a collapsible dog bowl which you can fill from a water bottle is a must.

This bright bowl (easy to locate in the depths of your backpack or tent) folds flat, clips to your backpack, and pops up to create a dog sized drinking spot.

Great to stash in the car, too

Keepin' it chill

A hiking fact of life:

Your dog is much closer to the hot trail than you are!

Here's a way to keep your dog chill on a hot hiking day: a canine cooling bandana.

  • Soak the material in water before you fasten it on
  • Re-usable throughout your hike and throughout the warm weather hiking season
  • Material also reflects sunlight to aid in the cooling process
  • Only weighs a few ounces, yet provides cooling relief for hot trail days

Hiking gear for dogs:
good trail etiquette

You may not think of it this way, but your dog is your ambassador on a hiking trail, especially if you're in an area which allows off leash hiking.

Your dog is probably going to encounter other humans, animals, birds and reptiles several minutes before you do.

Do you want to be the hiker who receives an angry outburst when your dog jumps up with muddy paws on a stranger?

Or watch your trail buddy go off a ledge while chasing a deer?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Here are a few strategies for being able to quickly secure your dog to your backpack or waist when you allow her to be off leash.

Reflective, breathable
vest harness

You work up a sweat on the trail, and you have the benefit of sweat glands all over your body.

  • Your dog is confined to panting to lower his body temperature on a hike.
  • So overlook the drool, okay?

You can be a good trail buddy by making him more comfortable on leash with a breathable, soft air mesh vest with a D ring to quickly accept the leash clip, like this one.

Waist dog leash

A hands free hiking dog leash like this one has many advantages:

  • Your hands are free to grip your trekking poles, or operate your camera.
  • Your dog is safe and under control, yet free to sniff and explore the trail.
  • Reflective stitching helps with early or late day hiking visibility to other (possibly dog squeamish) hikers.
  • The durability of tough nylon construction stands up to a large dog's movements, and lasts for many seasons.
  • It's fast and easy to get tethered together when you hear or spot activity up ahead on the trail.

First aid gear for dogs

Because you are a conscientious dog owner, you'll be carrying an inexpensive but well stocked first aid kit that includes some remedies for the maladies which dogs are prone to on their feet: blisters, cuts, splinters or abraded paw pads.

And you'll be prepared to remove burrs and ticks safely with a dog medical kit like this one:

You can also have your dog carry this kit in her backpack, because it weighs almost nothing.

Double bag it in plastic, though. Dogs have never met a mud puddle they didn't like!

Let's wrap up hiking gear for dogs
with a little trail fun

Trail fun = treats!

Trail treats aren't just for humans anymore.

These are some mighty tasty (judging by the reactions they provoke) dog treats, and they're loaded with nutrients rather than fillers and artificial colors.

One more fun idea!

Who says hiking gear for dogs has to be dull?

Snugly - but comfortably - mount a camera to your dog's harness and see what her idea of a good hike looks like - literally!

Happy canine trails to you!

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Best Hiking Gear For Dogs