Lots of owners ask us about hiking and hiking safety with their dogs so here are some tips. Hikes are great exercise for dogs because it allows for continuous moderate exertion compared to short high-exertion exercise like fetch or bike rides. However, there are some things you should know before taking off.
Start Small and Work Up:
Picking the Right Hike for You and Your Dog
Before taking on a longer hike (3+ hours) you should make sure your pet is in good condition. You wouldn’t wake up and climb Katahdin without some training would you? Take your dog for regular walks throughout the week and try shorter hikes before making a day of it. Some great shorter hikes in the Bangor area are Chick Hill (Clifton ME) and Blackcap Mt. (Eddington Me). These both take about an hour and are wooded trails with few rock or ledges to have to maneuver. The Orono trail system and Bangor Forest are also great places for longer low impact walks. Once your dog is in better shape you can try longer day hikes like those found in Acadia National Park, or Gulf Hagas.
What to Bring:
You want to make sure you are prepared and a responsible pet owner, so these parks stay pet friendly. You should have on hand for your dog:
- An extra leash & collar
- Poop bags
- Water & high-fat/high-protein food for energy during the hike.
- Collapsible bowl
- First Aid Kit ( Antiseptic or soap, 2″ roll gauze, 1/2″ tape, 4″ sterile gauze pads, Tweezers and scissors, 3″ “Vet Wrap” and dog booties or pair of child-size socks for blisters and cuts, Heat packs and/or cold packs (the kind you shake to activate)
How much can my dog carry?
When Bodhi hikes he wears a fitted outward hound pack to help carry some of his own supplies. Dogs can safely carry 10-12% of their body weight but no more than 15% even if they are well conditioned. Make sure the pack is fitted correctly to prevent rubbing and sores, and that your pet is used to wearing it before the hike.
What about bugs?
Most dogs are not bothered by bugs, but if they are sensitive to black flies and mosquitoes here are some tips. You can spray a bandana with bug dope and place it around the pet’s neck to keep bugs off their face. The groin has more skin exposed so a topical dog specific bug repellent gel is best. If you are going to a high risk tick area make sure your dog has their monthly flea and tick treatment. If it is a high Lyme risk area you may want to talk with your vet about using the Lyme vaccine.
For more information check out this website: www.k9trailblazers.org
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