Winter activity is essential but there is a lot to consider, especially if you’re a newbie to hiking in the cold with your dog. In order to have an enjoyable winter experience with and not get into any serious trouble, it’s always best to be prepared. Here we will provide 6 useful tips for winter hiking with your dog as well as some other information we hope will help.
1. Tell Someone About Your Hike
Before going on a winter hike, with or without your dog, you should always let someone know where you are going, your route, and how long you expect to be gone. Giving someone a copy of your route and the provisions you’re taking gives rescue parties a better chance pinpointing your location in the event you run into trouble. It is also a good idea to take a cellphone and enough supplies in case you have to hole up for the night, as unexpected weather patterns can take hikers by surprise.
2. Protect Your Dog’s Paws if Needed
Protecting your dog’s paws is very important when cold weather hiking. Even though many dogs are fine walking through snow, after a while the underlying ice can penetrate their paws and make them sore. Be sure to check his paws every so often to ensure they’re not having any problems. If they start to show signs of soreness, put some doggy booties on them. Don’t hesitate to turn back if your dog starts to limp, show signs of fatigue or labored breathing.
3. Bring Plenty of Water for The Both of You
Many dogs love eating snow, but it’s really no substitute for water as they can’t eat enough to keep them hydrated in colder temperatures. Streams and rivers freeze over in sub-zero temps, so it’s always best to carry plenty of water even if you’re only hiking for a couple of hours. In the event that you do have to hole up for a few hours or even a night due to bad weather moving in, it’s better to have too much than not enough.
4. Always Carry a Blanket or Pad
Carrying a blanket or pad may seem cumbersome for just a couple of hours of hiking, but you have to be prepared for sudden changes in the weather. Prepared as though were going to be out for the night, as you don’t want to have to sit or lay down on the snow if either of you need the rest. We recommend an insulated blanket or pad that is waterproof, or you might as well be sleeping on the wet ground.
5. Watch What Foods You Take
Food is an important component of your winter hike, and you need to take enough for the two of you. Be careful which foods you carry along, especially for your dog. Treats are an easy way to keep him nourished, but make sure they are not the type that can easily freeze or it will be hard for him to chew and digest. If you can’t find treats that stay soft in freezing temps, carry them in an inside pocket rather than in your backpack to help them stay soft.
6. Extra Precautions
Finally, if your dog is a short haired you may find it useful to bring along a dog coat to protect him. Even the most experienced hikers can get into trouble, holes covered by snow can’t be seen and it’s easy to break or twist an ankle, so take along a first aid kit. Once you have planned your trip and notified someone as to where you are going, you should be able to enjoy your winter hike with your dog and stay safe.