If you are a hiker and have a four legged friend, the chances are he’s going to be your number one choice when it comes to selecting a trekking companion. Your dog will love exploring new ground with you but they’re going to need a lot of care and attention. We’ve put together a few tips and recommendations to help you best prepare for your doggie adventures.

Before setting out

Before you go your dogs need to be physically ready to take on the hills: get their claws trimmed to prevent them cracking or snagging;build up fitness by gradually extending the length of the walks you take together;carry out worming and tick treatments and ensure your dog is fully vaccinated.

Search for a suitable route: if your dog likes to be off the lead, search for routes that avoid fields of livestock; keep your dog on its lead unless you are confident it will respond to your commands; adhere to instructional signage and don’t let your dog stray off to no go areas.

Dog Food/Snacks: prepare some snacks – dogs need extra calories on hikes too so don’t forget to pack some tasty calorific treats. They’re also useful for keeping them entertained when you stop for a rest. Things like dried sprats are packed full of protein and they weigh next to nothing.

Choosing the right kit

Mountain Paws have a great range of products suitable for treks in the hills.

  • Hiking dog harness – You want a well fitted harness that keeps your dog safe and offers them comfort and breathability. The hiking dog harness is fully adjustable and is designed to fit comfortably around the dog’s shoulders and stomach, giving you enhanced control. The harness is made from flexible foam, much like the foam panels on rucksack shoulder straps, which makes the harness lightweight and breathable, which your dog will definitely thank you for! There is a useful grab handle that runs length ways down the dogs back, which is ideal for lifting dogs out of harm’s way or assisting them over obstacles such as rocks.
  • Rope dog lead – The rope dog lead couples up well with the hiking dog harness, it attaches to the metal D ring on the harness via a strong karabiner style lock. The climbing style rope is tough and has a slight elasticity which absorbs the weight if your dog pulls, which along with the comfortable grip makes things a lot easier on your hands. It also has a reflective thread, which increases visibility in low light conditions.
  • Double dog extension lead – If you’re lucky enough to have two pet pals accompany you then the double dog extension lead is great for maintaining control of both dogs with one lead. It’s made of tough, elasticised material for enhanced durability and reduced pressure from pulling. The extension also has a grab loop behind each dogs collar, which is really useful if you need to quickly gain control if one of them comes into trouble or becomes too excited at the site of some furry wildlife!
  • Collapsible water bowl – Your dogs is going to need lots of water, especially if it is warm and your trek is particularly strenuous. The collapsible water bowl is lightweight and packs down neatly, so won’t take up much space in your pack. Alternatively, the hook loop on the bowl can be hung to the side of your pack for drying out, although the inner lining is waterproof so it’s nothing that a few shakes won’t resolve when it comes to drying.
  • Collapsible dog food bowl – Similar to the collapsible water bowl, the food bowl is made from wipe-clean fabric, is lightweight and packs small. It has a handy drawstring closure which means you can store dry food in there, ready to eat, oppose to having open packets scattered around your rucksack. Your dog is going to need just as much fuel as you are so make sure you have enough to keep him going, you probably want double the amount they usually eat.
  • Muddy dog towel – If your dogs are sharing your bedroom for the night, you’ll want to give them a good wipe down before they enter the tent or even before they jump back into the car. The muddy dog towel has hand pockets which are great for enabling you to wrap your arms around your dog and getting right underneath to rub all that muck away. They’ll probably enjoy the belly rub too! It’s very lightweight and is made from a microfibre material, which allows for quick drying.

Other dog gear essentials

  • Karabiner clips – There will be occasions where you need both hands free, so hook a karabiner clip to your rucksack and you can use it to attach your dog lead to in those instances.
  • Dog backpack – If your dogs is fit enough, they can carry their own kit but make sure you know their limitations. Generally, dogs can carry 15%-25% of their own body weight. However, that figure is going to vary depending on their level of fitness and age.
  • Dog boots –For those that can get away with them, for those who can’t a paw protection wax will help to protect the paw pads.
  • Poo bags – Although there are a couple of emergency bags in the Mountain Paws dog first aid kit!
  • Plenty of water or access to water on your route.

Looking out for your dogs on the hills

Dogs are tough but sometimes they do suffer injuries in the hills. We’ve outlined some of the potential issues and how best to deal with them using the Mountain Paws Dog First Aid Kit. It contains 40 canine specific components that will help you to get your dog back home or to the vet if necessary.

  • Lagging - You won’t find a bag of energy in the first aid kit but if your dog does start lagging behind, make sure you let them stop for a rest and a drink. Keep an eye on their tail, if it’s up and wagging, they’re probably doing great, if it’s between their legs, it might be time for a rest.
  • Limping – Check paw pads first to make sure there is nothing stuck in there. If it is clear, press on it gently and observe their reaction. Make a judgement about how serious you think it is but if they flinch or let out a yelp then you may have to piggy back your pooch home and get them checked out by a vet.
  • Overheating/Hyperthermia – If your dog is stopping, and panting excessively they might be getting too hot. Find some shade, and get them hydrated. Products like core coolers or cooling vests can help. On the flip side, if you’re out in cold conditions, you might want to invest in a jacket to keep them warm. There is an emergency blanket within the first aid kit should you need it.
  • Paw pad cuts – You might notice the paw pads giving your dog trouble if they are licking them excessively or even limping. Clean the wound first with an anti-bacterial wipe or soap, and control the bleeding by applying some pressure. Rubber gloves are great sanitary when administering first aid but can also double up as a temporary bootie should your furry friend cut their paw.
  • Ripped dew claws - Sterile wound dressings/gauze swabs will be especially useful if your pooch manages to rip their dew claw. Leave the claw attached but tape it down under a dressing and get a vet to remove it when you get home. Don’t take it off yourself as it may be attached to lots of nerves and blood vessels.
  • Ticks – Unfortunately dogs can pick up ticks easily, particularly when out in wild areas. Check your dogs skin, especially after a walk and remove them with a tick remover (don’t use your hands as you may not be able to remove the entire tick with your fingers).