Do you usually hike with your favorite four-legged companion? Has the winter weather made you leave your best hiking partner at home? Changing weather does not mean your dog has to stay home from your next hike. With a little planning, your dog can hit the open trails with you.
Tips for Hiking With Your Dog in the Winter
As a responsible dog owner, you are fully aware of your pet’s hiking limits. Hiking in the snow and cold requires additional care for your dog’s safety. Consider the following tips to help your dog stay healthy and happy during winter hikes.
- Be Warm: Some dog breeds love the snow. Others may need some extra protective gear to help maintain warmth and protect against hypothermia. Dog coats, booties, and paw protectors may be part of your dog’s new hiking routine. Coats help your dog stay warm and dry. Booties or paw protectors are essential to protect your dog’s paws from the elements. If your dog does not wear paw protectors, consider using a paw protection wax. The wax is easy to apply and helps keep your dog’s paws safe from the natural elements.
- Know Your Trail: Winter can add other hazardous conditions to hiking. Sticking to familiar trails can keep you and your dog safe.
- Dog Permitted Trails: Remember to only hike trails that allow dogs. Rules and guidelines may change in winter months. Checking ahead is essential.
- Keep Your Dog Close: Dogs love to run and explore. During the winter months, your dog may wander off too far. Lakes, streams, and rivers may not be fully frozen. Your dog slipping through the ice can be highly dangerous and sometimes deadly. Keeping your dog close is critical. The chances of hypothermia and other injuries could happen quickly.
- Food and Water: Like you, your dog will need proper hydration and nourishment during the hike. Snowy covered trails mean extra work for your dog. If your dog starts to slow down or stops, he may need a food and water break. Dehydration, hypothermia, and exhaustion are highly dangerous for your pet. Learn to read your pet’s signs to know when to take a trail break.
- Emergency Kit: Pack a first aid kit for your dog. Keep extra blankets in your vehicle in case of an emergency. The blankets can help keep your pet warm and dry.
- Mobile Device: Always carry a cell phone with you for emergencies. Use your phone to check on the weather. A forecast can change quickly, wintry weather can be dangerous for you and your dog. When hiking away from home, program local numbers for pet emergencies.
Winter does not automatically require you and your dog to stay indoors. With a little pre-planning, you and your faithful hiking companion will be out on the trails in no time.
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