Want a great hobby that won’t break the bank? Consider hitting the trail with your pup for a fun-filled day of fresh air and wagging tails. Just like you would carry the Ten Essentials, you’ll want a few doggy-specific pieces of gear for your big hike.

1. Make Sure Fido is Trail-Ready, Check with Your Vet

Prior to putting paw prints on the trail, make sure your dog is trail ready. Check in with your vet to make sure you are up to date with vaccinations and your dog has a clean bill of health. Many vets recommend a Leptospirosis vaccination if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors. Inquire if Leptospirosis is right for your dog prior to heading outdoors.

2. Leash ‘Em Up

Always be sure to check out the leash laws for the area you plan to hike. There are certain areas where your pup is permitted to be off-leash if they are under voice command. For those that don’t allow off-leash travel, respect the laws and carry a leash. You don’t need a fancy leash, in fact, the simpler, the better. If you want a hands-free leash, you can always clip a carabiner to your belt loop and the leash.

Also, make sure you have either a harness or collar with your dog’s identification tags. This not only helps if Fido decides to make a break for it, but it also proves that your dog is vaccinated against rabies, a Colorado Law.

3. Dealing with Number Two

Let’s face it, no one likes to see a poopy trail. If you do bag your dog’s dooky, be sure to carry it with you, don’t leave it on the trail for later. When you leave a bag on the trail you are not only littering, but you ruin the experience for everyone else. If you aren’t ok with carrying poop, invest in a small, plastic spade. Bury the deed just like you would your own, in a hole six-inches deep away from the trail.

4. Bring Water and Snacks

Just like you, your pup will tucker out on a long hike. Be sure to keep you and Fido hydrated. Some dogs like to drink from streams or eat snow. However, don’t rely on streams to water your dog, make sure you pack enough for both you and your fury friend. Keep a collapsible water bowl clipped to your pack. Don’t forget the snacks. On long hikes, pack a nibble of something tasty for your four-legged friend.

5. First Aid

You can opt to purchase a dog-specific first aid kit, or you can add a few extra items to your own. If you are traveling long distances, over sharp gravel (think anything in the lower Front Range) or over rocks in the high-alpine you’ll want to keep an eye on your pup’s feet. Paw wax is a safe, natural way to protect your pup’s precious paws. Apply before the hike and re-up every few hours or before a rough section of trail. If you notice a tear in your dog’s paws, fashion a makeshift doggy booty with a child’s sock and some duct tape. This will help cushion the injury as you make your way back to the trailhead.

For older dogs or dogs recovering from injury, ask your vet about a special doggy pain reliever prescription. In the event of a snake bite, Benadryl can be used to stop the swelling and buy some time to get to a vet. Take note that doggy doses are different than people doses and always check with your vet about your dog’s specific needs before giving your dog over-the-counter medication.

You don’t need a load of fancy gear to take a hike with your pup. With a few basic items, you and Fido will be all geared up for a fantastic day on the trail.

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