Over the years I have found there are certain items that are must-haves when hiking with dogs. In this post I want to share 5 items I feel are essential to have with me when I go hiking with my pets.
My recent post on what you need to do when your pet is bitten by a rattlesnake fueled a lot of questions from my readers regarding emergency gear for hiking with pets. So I decided to do a post on the items that I feel are essential to carry with you when you hike with your dog.
Of course, please always carry enough water for you and your pets and bring a collapsible dog dish or other way to give water to your dog!
1. Multi-Use Tool
I live in Phoenix, AZ and I hike a lot in and around the Phoenix area. You may have seen some of my YouTube videos. Here in the Sonoran Desert, we have a lot of cactus and things with thorns or needles, so the first thing I learned to bring with me was a Multi-use tool. Mine is made by Gerber, but there are a lot of different multi-use tools, including Swiss-Army Knifes and Leatherman Tools.
You will need this tool to pull cactus and other thorns out of your dog's paws. Unfortunately, getting into these things is sometime unavoidable.
It's not important what brand you get, but you do want to look for a tool that has several options. I suggest at a minimum you need some needle-nose pliers, scissors, and knife. Of course, another option is to carry all three single items with you. The all-in-one tools are just a lot more compact and therefore easier to carry in your day-pack. By getting something that has more than just pliers, you are bringing a tool that will be useful in a lot of different emergency situations. You may even find that you are using this handy item during a lot of non-emergencies.
Next, be sure to bring a comb. Yep, you read right, you need a simple plastic or metal comb, preferably one with wide teeth. A hair pick is also a good option.
You won't believe how often you will use this simple tool on the trail! When your dog gets some prickly pear or cholla cactus stuck to his paws or fur, you will be so glad to have this item! See, you don't want to use your hands to get the cactus off your pet, because even when you wear leather gloves, the spines and needles go right through into your skin. So now you got a personal emergency and so does your dog. So instead of trying to get the cactus off your pet with your bare hands, use the comb. Now all that's left to do is get out your Multi-Use Tool mentioned in section 1 and get the little spines and needles out of your precious pet!
3. Vet Wrap
There are a lot of different ways vet wrap will come in handy on your hiking adventures. You can use other types of bandages as well, but I like vet wrap because it sticks to itself.
You can use this to quickly fix broken gear, or bandage up a cut. You may also need it in the cactus emergency. If your dog got a lot of cactus on him, he will likely try to get it off himself by biting at it. You want to be sure to quickly discourage this, because if he pulls at the cactus with his mouth, he will have spines inside the mouth and that is an even bigger emergency!
To discourage your dog from biting at the cactus, you can use the vet wrap to make a quick soft muzzle. Simply wrap the soft wrap loosely around the muzzle, so the dog cannot bite at anything any more. This is also a good emergency procedure in case of injury. Sometimes when dogs are in pain, they will bite anyone trying the help them. So a soft muzzle can be helpful to keep the dog calm while you access and treat his injuries.
If you aren't comfortable making a muzzle from a wrap, it's a good idea to carry a soft muzzle in addition to the other items in your pack.
4. Dog Emergency Harness
OK, so this next item is a bit more expensive than our previously mentioned gear, but this one is really important, if you hike a lot with a medium to large size dog. If your dog is small, like my Jack Russell Terrier Heidi, you will not need an emergency harness, but if your dog is 15 lbs or more this item will be a good idea. If your dog was injured on the trail in a way that he would not be able to walk out by himself, how would you carry him out? If you have two or more people, you could carry your dog with a blanket (if you brought one), but if you are alone, you will need some kind of device to carry your dog. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of products out there to help with such emergencies. In fact, so far, I have found only one company that makes a useful product. So I highly recommend you get the Pack-A-Paw-Rescue-Harness from Mountain Dogware
Watch our full review on the Pack-A-Paw Emergency Harness here:
Emergency Dog Rescue - Pack-A-Paw-Rescue-Harness
If you know of other items that would be helpful to carry your pet to safety, please comment below. I have been searching for emergency rescue items for some time and cannot find any other useful items!
5. Dog Boots
In my experience, carrying a set of dog boots is a very useful item. Even if you don't have your dog wear the boots all the time while hiking, they will come in handy on long hikes, when your pet's paws are hurting from rough terrain. I have been on many trails, where we did not need the boots until we were in for several miles. We came across areas with sharp rough footing and just used the boots for a short while to get through these areas.
Dog Boots are also highly recommended in hot weather months, when rock and asphalt can heat up and hurt your dog's paws!
I would love to hear from you - what are some items you carry with you to make sure you are prepared for emergencies with your dog on trail?
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