Hiking with Your Dog: What to Know and What to Bring

Hiking with Your Dog. What to Know and What to Bring.

Experiencing nature while getting exercise is a great way to spend quality time with your dog. Hikes are a great way to get out and about with your pet, but the great outdoors can be unpredictable and have its risks. Keeping your dog safe and happy on the trails should be a top priority for anyone wanting to adventure with their pup. Here are a few things to know before taking your dog out in the wilderness:

Know Where You’re Going

Take some time to research the hike you want to explore ahead of time with these questions in mind:

Is this the right trail to bring my dog on? 

In many state and national parks, there are usually a handful, if not the majority, of trails that don’t allow our four-legged companions. This could be due to many reasons like trail upkeep, trail safety, or simply the preference of the park. 

What will the terrain be like?

For the most part, dogs can do pretty well on trails. There are, however, a few factors that might make a trail not suitable for a dog. Rocky areas that could have sharp pebbles or areas that require climbing could lead to an injury for a dog. Hiking booties can be a helpful investment to prevent paw pad injuries caused by rough terrain.

What is the weather supposed to be?

Temperatures over 75 degrees can cause the ground to become extremely hot. If it’s hot for you, it’s hot for your dog. Use your best judgment when deciding if the weather is suitable for you and your dog.


Pack For Your Pup!

Have these essentials on hand to make sure your dog has all they need on the trail:

Water and Collapsible Bowl

  • Prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration both of which can lead to serious complications.


  • Depending on how long you’re going to be hiking, having food and treats on hand will be a good way to refuel their energy.

Leash, Collar, and Harness with ID Tag

  • Keeping your dog on a leash while hiking is the safest option 100% of the time. Whether it’s the safety of your dog, other dogs, other hikers, or wildlife, have your dog leased when on a trail. An ID tag is also something that will contribute to keeping your pet safe on and off the trail. Have your dog’s name and a reliable phone number listed so you can be contacted if your dog gets loose.

Plastic Bags

  • This one seems pretty self-explanatory. Make sure you have the means to clean up after your dog so trails remain a welcoming place for dogs.

First Aid Kit

  • A small kit with essentials like bandages, gauze, sterile saline, tweezers, etc. (see a full list here) will be crucial if the unexpected happens. Whether it be a bee sting, cut, or a more serious injury, having access to first aid is extremely helpful, especially on a trail. 

Reflective Accessories and a Flashlight

  • These can be helpful in various, unsuspecting scenarios. Hiking later in the day or early in the morning and remaining visible in dark areas just to name a few.


  • Booties, canine floatation devices, and insulating jackets are great to have in your pack if hiking in more extreme conditions like snow, areas with a lot of water crossings, or rough terrain.

Snakes & Wildlife

Bear Bells are a great way to prevent your dog from sneaking up on any dangerous critters on the trail. Attaching a bell to their collar may just save them from a rattlesnake or mountain lion. 

What to Do If Your Dog Gets Bit

Our first piece of advice is to stay as calm as possible. Your dog can feel when you’re stressed, so on top of the pain and fear that comes with being bit having you stay calm will only lead to an easier experience.

Do NOT attempt to capture the snake or creature that bit your dog can lead to further injury to you or your dog. Focus on your animal.

Do NOT tie off the bite like we would with a person. This can lead to a range of issues and complications such as tissue necrosis (death) due to decreased oxygen. 

Keep the bite below the heart to slow the spread of the venom. Typically bites happen to the legs or paws which makes this an easy task. If the bite occurs on an unusual spot such as the face or upper body, carry your dog if possible to help slow the spread.

Take your dog to be seen at a Vet as soon as possible!!

Injuries and Wounds

This is when your first aid kit comes in handy! Superficial wounds, like a scrape, that aren’t bleeding can be cleaned with a sterile saline solution before continuing your trek (depending on your dog’s comfort level) 

When it comes to deep wounds, wounds that may need stitches, or bleeding excessively. Clean the wound the best you can using a sterile saline solution. If you are able to wrap the wound using bandages or gauze, do so. Then get your dog situated in a manner that you can get them to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. The deeper the wound, the higher the risk of serious infection. 

Caring for Their Paws

A majority of injuries occur on the paws. Paw injuries can be caused by things like sharp rocks or objects on the trail, hot rocks and gravel, low-hanging branches, or even cacti. 

Giving your dog regular exposure to the outdoors and various types of terrain can be very helpful in conditioning their paws to be strong. Therefore lessening the chance of injury. However, broken glass or cacti thorns can still break the skin. Yet another reason to ALWAYS have that first aid kit with you.

Wildlife Traps

Wildlife traps aren’t something that is too common in general, public hiking areas close to/in cities, but when exploring state parks or more rural areas traps should be something to watch out for. 

Start by doing some research about trapping laws and regulations for the area you’re visiting. Most state parks will have this information available on their website. This will give you an idea of where to avoid or tread with caution. However, illegally laid traps must also be considered in 

areas where wildlife traps are used. They are purposely placed at trailheads or hidden in bushes along roads. This makes keeping your dog on a leash that much more vital to your dog and their safety. 

If They Get Caught In a Trap

If your dog is caught in a trap intended for foxes or coyotes, they are meant to do as little damage as possible. Keeping calm while waiting for a ranger or wildlife service will be the best thing you can do for your dog. Unless you know what you’re doing and have worked with releasing traps before, we urge that you do not attempt to undo the trap. When dogs are in distress, they can bite out of panic, fear, or pain.

Before releasing your dog, make sure that they are leashed as distress can also make dogs bolt out of fear. Take time to examine your pup, if they have sustained any injuries from the trap, take them to see a vet as soon as you can.