I was scrolling through facebook the other day and I saw an add for a backpack type thing for dogs. A harness-y thing you could use to carry a dog off a trail if something were to happen. It was definitely an interesting concept, and it really got me thinking about dog hiking safety in general. How well do I plan ahead when we take our own dogs on the trails? There are plenty of trails to choose from around us, or even far off the beaten track if we’re camping. I should probably evaluate my preparedness in this situation.

And then of course I thought, well I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking about this (or perhaps not yet thinking about it), so it’s probably the perfect blog post.

Dog Hiking Safety

These are some of the best dog hiking safety tips. They’ll help you best prepare for the day.

Don’t hike when it’s hot. Plan your day according to the temp. If the afternoon sun will be beating down on you and your buddy, consider going in the morning instead, when it will be cool.

Bring enough water, and then some. Your pack should have enough water to keep you and your pup hydrated all day long. You never want to be stuck. And remember, water can also be helpful if you need to wash out a cut or scrape! I always make sure I have lots along with my dogs’ collapsable bowls.

Watch for signs of exhaustion or heat stroke. Even if it doesn’t feel super warm, being out in even mild heat can be much harder on your pooch than it is on you. When you may not be overly heated by the temps, your dog may be. And don’t forget, dogs don’t sweat, so if they’re hot, they’ll pant, and that just isn’t as efficient for cooling down. Signs include:

  • lethargy
  • restlessness, agitation
  • excessive panting/drooling
  • bright red tongue and very red or very pale gums
  • difficulty breathing
  • vomiting or diarrhea

**These are all serious – you need to take immediate steps to get your pooch to the vet.

Know before you go. It’s always a good idea to do a little research beforehand and be aware of where you’re heading. Check that the terrain is suitable for your dog’s abilities. Some locations may also have poisonous plants/insects/etc. Check the leash restrictions and adhere to them.

Stop and smell the flowers. Offer you dog plenty of opportunities to stop and sniff along the way, especially if it’s warm. Let her splash in the creek or stream and cool down. Sit and have a snack. Just let her have a break (and yourself too)!

Tick check! If you’re in an area where ticks are a problem, make sure to do a super thorough tick check once you get home.

dog hiking safety


It’s always smart to bring a first-aid kit. Even just a small one with the essentials.

Here’s what’s in mine:

  • Calendula is considered the ultimate wound healer. It’s an anti-inflammatory, calendula is also known for its ability to help speed up wound healing. It’s also good for skin irritations and even bug bites.
  • Homeopathic remedies like arnica. It’s ideal for any trauma, so give it right away if there’s an injury. It can also help with muscle pain and stiffness.
  • Chamomile – brew some tea and make a tincture – it’s great for pain and inflammation in the intestines and stomach.
  • And don’t forget gauze or non-stick wrap and medical tape for any open wounds.

Be Prepared

When it comes to dog hiking safety, a little extra effort can help protect your pup along the trail. A hike is far more involved than a trot down the street, so you just want to make sure you’re covered should the weather turn, or something unexpected happens. You both want to leave the trail happy and healthy! Happy hiking!