Important: Neither the author of this article nor Sierra Trading Post staff are veterinarians. Consult your veterinarian before changing or supplementing your dog's diet, and before having your dog shaved for the summer. The author is just sharing her tips and advice learned from over 20 years of dog ownership.
1. Appropriate Footwear
For you, appropriate footwear can be either hiking boots or trail shoes, depending on the length of your hike and the terrain. Depending on the terrain and time of year, you might consider dog booties, which can protect your pup's paws from dirt, debris, and snow and ice on the trail, as well as extreme heat and cold. Learn how to size dog booties here.
2. Map & Compass
This is a classic for a reason; you want to know where you're going and what's coming up on the trail: water, campsites, etc. You can supplement with a GPS, but always have a map and compass as a backup.
3. Extra Water & Water Purification
This is essential not only for you, but for your pup too. Dogs can't sweat, so the only way for them to regulate their body temperature is by staying hydrated and by panting. Be sure to look for signs of dehydration and exhaustion in your dog, and know whether you're pushing them too hard. In the summer, consider getting them groomed/shaved to take off some of that extra insulation.
4. Extra Food
You're expending extra energy on the trail, and so is your pup. You have lots of options for food, and so does your dog! Consider bringing along a bag of their regular kibble, along with some of their favorite treats to keep them going. If you really want something special, check out our Grr-nola bars, which you and your pup can share!
5. Rain Gear & Extra Clothing
Layering is a good idea in all seasons. In the winter, consider a sweater or dog coat to keep your pup warm. Look for dog jackets that repel water so your dog doesn't get soaked; this keeps him both comfortable and better-smelling!
6. Safety Items: Fire, Light, Whistle
If you happen to get stranded, you'll want to start a fire to stay warm, and a flashlight or headlamp will come in handy after dark. If you're lost or need help, a whistle is more effective than calling for help; use 3 short bursts at a time.
7. First Aid Kit
You can buy a prepackaged first aid kit, or make your own. Consider adding a few extra items, like vet wrap (a self-cling bandage that won't stick to fur) and hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting, use only at a veterinarian's instruction), to prepare for any first aid needs for your pup. Check with your local humane society or shelter for first aid training courses for dogs.
8. Knife/Multipurpose Tool
As the name implies, multipurpose tools have many uses on the trail. They can help cut cloth into bandage, make minor repairs in gear, etc.
9. Sunscreen & Sunglasses
Especially at higher elevations, you want to protect your eyes and skin from harmful UVA & UVB rays. Talk to your vet about sunscreen for your dog, as some breeds are more susceptible to sunburn, especially on the top of their noses.
You want to be able to carry everything on the list above comfortably, and that's where your backpack is your (other) best friend. You can even have your pup help lighten your load by having them carry some gear in their own pack. Most dogs can safely carry up to one third of their weight in a properly fitted pack; start out with a light pack and work up the weight gradually.
How else have you modified the 10 Essentials list to make hiking with your dog even better? Let us know in the comments below!