Hey, Roll Dogs – I cannot believe it's Spring!
The weather in Colorado has been indecisive to say the least; one day snow and high winds, the next 65º degrees or higher. I took Vader and Leia out for a hike this morning and I was bundled with my beanie, coat, boots and gloves. By noon, I was shedding all my layers and cramming them into my backpack, hello Spring! This week we're sharing our top 10 essentials for Spring hiking with your dogs. Here we go...
1. Snacks & Food
When preparing for a hike make sure you pack snacks and food for you and your dogs. While running on the trails dogs burn a lot of energy – running through water, jumping logs, rock climbing, ... doing what pups do best. You don't want your dog to become weak and dizzy when you are miles away from an emergency vet. Having yummy treats and snacks for your dog will help reduce their urge to eat things they find in the woods. Also, I find training and teaching new tricks to be a great past-time and bonding experience with Leia and Vader.
Some of their favorite treats are slow-smoked brisket balls and sweet tater chews from Lose A Finger, a homemade natural treat company based in Georgia. Their treats smell incredibly yumm-cious!
Another favorite for the pups is Zuke's enhance endurance functional chews. We chose these treats because they have so many great ingredients that support healthy joints, muscle recovery and stamina.
2. Dog Specific First Aid Kit
Leia and Vader hike with us year-round so we've had quite the number of accidents; the most common is slicing their paws pads and picking up ticks. What I've learned, is to pack a dog specific emergency kit that I now add to their dog packs for every adventure. Here's what's inside:
Cotton Bandage Rolls
Tweezers and/or Tick Remover
Saline Solution for cleaning wounds. Isopropyl Alcohol is a toxin for dogs.
Muzzle – when dogs are stressed and in pain they occasionally show aggression. A muzzle allows me to help the pups without being injured.
Triple Antibiotic ointment – a combination of Bacitracin, Neomycin and Polymyxin B to treat bacterial infections of minor cuts, burns or scrapes.
Sugardine = betadine + sugar: Sugardine is a paste that you can easily make on the trails from betadine solution and white sugar. It's a remarkably safe and effective wound dressing. I use it whenever Vader or Leia cut their paws. It draws out infection, improves drainage and toughens the skin while promoting healthy tissue growth. Unlike some other common remedies, sugardine doesn’t dry or damage existing healthy tissue.
Depending on the terrain of the trail and the temperature of the ground where you're hiking, your dog may need boots with rubber soles. If you are hiking a trail with lots of cactus, trash i.e. glass and metals, or your dog is prone to paw injuries, we would definitely recommend finding a well designed boot to protect your dog's paw pads. Our favorites are the Ruffwear Grip Trex dog boots. They have Vibram soles which are excellent for grip and their non-slip so we don't lose them when hiking.
4. Survival Bracelet & Collar
Humble brag, we make the best survival gear on the market for camping and hiking with dogs. Imagine this, you’ve set out on a hiking adventure and gotten lost in the woods with only your K-9 friend for companionship. For all the possibilities of things that could go wrong a Survival Bracelet is an exceptionally useful and essential tool for hikers and campers alike.
There is absolutely no way we would ever hit the trails without our Survival Bracelets. I use the whistle to call the dogs to me when they've wandered too far, and I start all our campfires with the built-in striker and magnesium rod. In addition to the whistle and fire starter, the collars and bracelets also have a compass, emergency knife and 550 paracord which could be used to secure a splint, hang a bear bag, tie up gear, hang game for drying, make a perimeter trip line, make a shelter – the possibilities are endless.
5. Brush/Tick Comb
If you've been a dog owner for any period of time, you know they like to get into everything. As a precaution we always pack a comb to remove ticks, sticky weeds and/ or other bugs and plants that decide to take a ride in the dog's fur.
6. Dog Tie Out Stake/DIY Zip-Line
You may travel to a portion of the trail where you want to take pictures, eat a snack, and you need your hands-free. A tie out is a great tool for maintaining control over the dogs while still giving them room to wander. Another option is to create a doggy zip line. We got the idea from Amy at Go Pet Friendly and now set up a zip line for Leia and Vader at every campsite. Click here to learn how.
Make sure you pack enough water for you and your dog. Exposure to a hot environment and vigorous exercise both increase body temperature. This is the last thing you want to run out of on a trail. Stay hydrated!
8. Doggy Packs
Hiking gear can get pretty heavy. Reduce the amount of supplies you carry by getting your dog his/her own backpack. You can fill the backpack with food, treats, and water bottles. (Leia, pictured below is wearing the Kurgo Baxter Pack dog backpack.
9. Leash and Collar/Harness
Even if your dog is great off-leash and comes every time you call, sometimes leashes are required by law or just by common courtesy, so you should have one handy at all times. Our Survival Leashes are made using rope and include a compass accessory for the adventurous at heart.
10. BONUS! Canine CPR & First Aid
Take a dog CPR class. Many pet-focused companies offer classes to learn pet first aid, including dog CPR. Pet Tech offers an 8-hour program taught by a certified instructor that teaches a variety of first aid skills and offers a certificate once the program is completed. The Red Cross also offers courses, some of which are online.