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 Hiking and Backpacking With a Dog

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DougM
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PostSubject: Hiking and Backpacking With a Dog   Thu May 19, 2016 11:44 pm

So I am an avid hiker and backpacker but this is the first year I will have the girl with me. I have done a lot of research as usually my hikes will last anywhere from 3-5 days in the backcountry. I am starting up a little personal blog and my first post was on hiking with dogs. I am wondering if anyone would be willing to give some input on anything that I should add or remove as I am just trying to get it right and help get information out. Also hoping that maybe this will help answer some questions for people. Let me know what you think. (NOTE: This was intended for those hiking in Maine so some things are left out such as dealing with venomous bites).




Food & Water

While the amount of water required for your dog can vary based on a number of circumstances such as climate, difficulty of hike, fitness level, and age, the rule of thumb is .24L per 5lbs of weight for dogs under 20lbs. For larger dogs it gets a little trickier yet it's safe to assume they can easily consume over .03 liters of water per pound of body weight per day. For a 70lb dog, that equates to over 4lbs of extra weight in water. If you are planning on using a natural water source for your pet, use a water filtration system to help prevent Giardia infection (symptoms: diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss). While tablets such as iodine are effective, they are time consuming so I recommend using a Sawyer Mini Water Filter which allows you to turn that extra 4lbs into 2oz.

Take plenty of breaks (every 15-30 minutes) and allow your dog the option of water whether they drink it or not. If you are thirsty, your dog is most likely beyond thirsty.

Portion your pets food for each meal in plastic sandwich bags then increase each bag based on their fitness level and hike difficulty but not exceeding 50%. Always pack a couple extra servings for emergency purposes.

Trail Selection

When starting out look for trails that will be easy on their paws such as those with soft leaf or needle covered paths and overhead cover. Until your dog has built up their capabilities, avoid paths with sharp rocks, steep drops, or any surface that has the potential to get really hot. Work your dog up. Additionally, not all trails are pet friendly and most require that you use a leash no longer than 6 feet in length.

Endurance

When it comes to your dogs endurance there is a common rule of 5 minutes per every month of age to protect their growing joints while their growth plates are still open. This rule is not set in stone and time can decrease based on weather conditions and your pets abilities (both individually and breed). It is important to acknowledge that dogs are capable of maintaining a pace and going longer distances even beyond exhaustion. Make frequent stops and begin to understand the signs they present when tired such as losing interest in the trail and making increased stops to chew on a stick. In these instances, if it is important that you keep pace, carry your pet. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO CONTINUE EVEN IF THE TRAILHEAD IS A SHORT DISTANCE AWAY.

Gear

When picking out a pack for your dog, measure the circumference of the their chest to ensure a correct fit. Although straps must be snug to prevent slippage, you should be able to fit 2 fingers between them and the dogs body. Ensure that it does not chafe (belly, chest, and legs) and that the weight is evenly distributed on both sides.  Place the middle part of the pack on your dogs back and adjust all straps equally to maintain even distribution. Note that packs (loaded) should not exceed 25% of your dogs total body weight. When introducing your dog to the pack, begin with one pound of weight (16oz bottle of water) and increase by 10% for each week they are carrying it.

For overnight trips be sure to bring either a sleeping pad or blanket for insulation between them and the cold ground. Also, if your dog will be spending the night in your tent it is advised that you clip their nails before hitting the trailhead to prevent accidental damage to your tent (look into patch kits). Don't forget a small towel for wiping their paws.

A couple other items which are worth looking into for the safety of your dog are LED lights which clip onto their pack or harness (do not use a standard collar on hikes!) and a cooling collar (not for leash attachment) / harness.

Black bears are common in Maine and one of the easiest ways to prevent interaction is to alert them to your presence beforehand. This can be accomplished by attaching a small bear bell to the back of your dogs harness.

Lastly, collapsable bowls are easy to clean and can be clipped onto either of your packs.

Waste

When it comes to your dog's waste, leave no trace. On longer backpacking trips, bury your dog's waste at least 6 inches into the ground and 200 feet away from the trail (about 70 adult steps). Compostable waste bags are easy on the environment should one escape you at some point throughout the hike.

Health & Vaccinations

Before taking your dog onto the trail it is imperative that they have the necessary vaccinations to help prevent illness.

“Vaccines help prepare the body's immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. If a pet is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness.” – ASPCA

Rabies Vaccine:
The rabies virus infects an animals nerve tissue. The most common wild transmitters of rabies in the state of Maine are bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Other animals which can carry the virus but rarely transmit are woodchucks and squirrels.

Bordetella (Kennel Cough):
Bordetella is a highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs. Symptoms are a persistent cough, retching, watery nasal discharge, pneumonia, fever, inappetence, and lethargy.

Standard DHLPP Inoculation:
This vaccine helps fight against distemper, canine hepatitis, parvo, parainfluenza, and two strains of leptospirosis.

Heartworm:
With the amount of mosquitos we receive in the state of Maine it is imperative that your dog maintains a heartworm regiment as this is the only way in which dogs are susceptible to heartworm. Heartworms lodge themselves into your dogs heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels before reproducing. These worms can grow up to 12 inches long and have a life span of 5-7 years.

Tick Control:
With new medications arriving almost daily I will not make any recommendations but advise you to speak with your pets veterinarian. While it is important to have your dog covered, it would be to your benefit to learn the different ticks and what disease they transmit for identification purposes while on the trail.

First-Aid
The following items should be added to your first-aid kit (which you carry!) or placed in your dogs pack.


  • Tweezers or a Tick Twister
  • Canine Eyewash
  • Small Muzzle or Sock (to prevent your pet from causing further injury to itself or you if an event should arise)
  • Benadryl (1mg per pound of body weight 2-3 times a day if your dog gains an allergic reaction. *Note: This can cause your dog to become drowsy and further dehydrated)
  • Styptic Pencil (for minor cuts to paws)
  • Dog Booties
  • Musher's Wax (used to prevent snow buildup in their pads during the long winter months)
  • Electrolyte Replacement (during extreme circumstances your dog may require hydration faster then what can be accomplished simply with water. Most electrolyte enhancers for humans are toxic to dogs so ensure it is non-sweetened and super-concentrated)
  • Dog First-Aid Guide


In addition to these items, be sure to carry a copy of your dog's vaccinations records along with an emergency contact number to their office.

Here is a link to the full post with links. If this link breaks any forum rules just let me know and I will happily remove it.


Last edited by DougM on Mon May 23, 2016 2:32 am; edited 3 times in total
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Hiking and Backpacking With a Dog   Thu May 19, 2016 11:57 pm

A couple of comments:

The 5 minute rule is to protect their growing joints while their growth plates are still open.

Booties will protect the paws.

I believe b the weight limit for packs is 25 %

Nice synopsis,
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DougM
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PostSubject: Re: Hiking and Backpacking With a Dog   Thu May 19, 2016 11:58 pm

@amymeme wrote:
A couple of comments:

The 5 minute rule is to protect their growing joints while their growth plates are still open.

Booties will protect the paws.

I believe b the weight limit for packs is 25 %

Nice synopsis,



Awesome! I made some changes.. Thank you! I pulled the 1/3rd from a couple articles on backpacker and outsider magazine. I will look further into it. Appreciate the input.
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Hiking and Backpacking With a Dog   Fri May 20, 2016 12:38 am

@DougM wrote:

@amymeme wrote:
A couple of comments:

The 5 minute rule is to protect their growing joints while their growth plates are still open.

Booties will protect the paws.

I believe b the weight limit for packs is 25 %

Nice synopsis,




Awesome! I made some changes.. Thank you! I pulled the 1/3rd from a couple articles on backpacker and outsider magazine. I will look further into it. Appreciate the input.

Also, the dog needs to start with only a pound or so and build up to wearing the pack.
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DougM
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PostSubject: Re: Hiking and Backpacking With a Dog   Fri May 20, 2016 12:49 am

@amymeme wrote:


Also, the dog needs to start with only a pound or so and build up to wearing the pack.


Is there a good routine to follow when building it up or should it just be done slowly over time? Thanks for all the input! Also to err on the side of caution I am going to change it to your recommended 25% weight.
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Hiking and Backpacking With a Dog   Fri May 20, 2016 1:24 am

I use the same as offshoots exercise...10% increase per week
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DougM
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PostSubject: Re: Hiking and Backpacking With a Dog   Mon May 23, 2016 2:29 am

@amymeme wrote:
I use the same as offshoots exercise...10% increase per week


Awesome... I can't wait until our little girl can start carrying her own pack so we don't have to lug her stuff around Very Happy

Thanks so much for the info I just added it in.
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jbealer
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Location : Denver, CO

PostSubject: Re: Hiking and Backpacking With a Dog   Mon May 23, 2016 3:09 pm

Doug,
good start, did i miss anything there about keeping your dog leashed? that is the best way to keep them safe on the trail.
I would suggest training with the backpack on daily walks for at least a month if you are planing a week trip, i have started mine pack training as we are about a month out for our first summit, if the snow melts... we are doing a 10mile warm up this weekend, has just over a 2k gain.
i also keep this self sticking wide tape in their bag for first aid.
using those collapsible reusable water bottles inside the dogs bag also save on weight
those are my first thoughts.
i would also suggest freeze dried food for the dog to keep the pack weight down, and if they are not eating that food to start mixing it into their diet to get them ready for the trail.

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