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Hiking With Pets: Gadgets, Safety, and More



Sharing the great outdoors with your pet can be one of the more rewarding aspects of pet ownership. Hiking, backpacking, jogging, or even a simple walk through the neighborhood can benefit pets and owners alike. Besides being invigorating and mentally stimulating, outdoor exercise with your pet strengthens the bond between the two of you, too; and will keep you both happy and healthy in the years to come.

But spending time in the great outdoors with your pet means responsibility, too. And while we’re sure you’re aware of that, it’s always good to bone up and be prepared, just in case.

What to Keep In Mind When Hiking With Pets

Whether you’re hiking in the hills or on the trails (or even the city streets), there are a few things to keep in mind, not only for your pet’s safety, but for the sake of others, too. Consider the following:

Leash ‘Em Up – Keep dogs leashed when out on the trail, especially when other hikers, bikers, or horses are present. Yield the trail to all others, just to be safe.

Scoop the Poop! – Carry plastic bags to collect your dog’s feces. Dispose of pet waste in a properly marked receptacle away from the trail or wilderness area.

Banish Bloodsuckers – Don’t let your furry pal bring unwanted guests home. Make sure that his or her flea and tick preventatives are up to date. Pets are much more likely to come into contact with parasitic insects while out on the trail and some, such as ticks, carry disease that can sicken your pet.

Just Say No To Rabies –  Encountering wildlife is not uncommon while hiking. It is vitally important that your pet’s vaccinations are current before you hit the trail, especially for rabies. To further keep potential disease transmission at bay, don’t allow your dog to investigate dead wildlife.

Safety First – Put together a small pet first-aid kit and consider getting some basic training in human and animal first aid. You also may want some reflective gear for your dog, especially if you’re out at night or during hunting season.

Pulling Their Weight: Saddlebags And Your Dog

If you and your pooch are out for an adventure, it’s likely you’ll want to bring some supplies (fresh water and food, at the very least) for your four-legged friend. Instead of packing the weight yourself, you may want to consider letting Fido carry his or her own weight. For some dogs, a harness fitted with saddlebags for carrying water and other supplies is the ideal way to ensure that your dog has what he or she needs during your excursion.

Here are some considerations before purchasing or using saddlebags for your dog:

  • Take your dog’s overall health and energy level into consideration before deciding to use saddlebags. If your dog is suffering from a health issue or you have any concerns about their ability to carry a load, contact us beforehand.
  • Adjust the harness – it should fit snugly but not chafe your dog.  A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to slide two fingers in between dog and harness.
  • When loading the packs, make sure both sides are weighted equally. For most dogs the load should not exceed 10-12% of his or her body weight.

To Gadget, Or Not To Gadget?

Health and lifestyle tracking devices have been popular among the exercise savvy for quite some time. Lately there has been a growing trend of fitness trackers for pets on the market as well. Read below to find out if any of these popular devices may be right for you and your pet.

  • Whistle – A cookie-shaped device that straps to your dog’s collar and tracks his or her movements and activity.
  • Fitbark – Daily activity monitor for dogs
  • Tagg GPS Pet Tracker – Use this device to track your pet’s location on your computer or smartphone in the event that he or she gets lost
  • Voyce – Measures your pet’s vital signs and other wellness indicators and sends the information to your smartphone

If you have any questions or concerns about outdoor activities with your dog, or if want to schedule a wellness exam before heading out for a summer excursion with your pet, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Happy trails!


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Westlake Animal Hospital


3930 Bee Cave Rd. Austin, TX 78746

Clinic Hours

Mon-Fri: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sat & Sun: Closed