Most dogs are willing and fun companions, always ready to hit the trails on an outdoor adventure, but they require a few extra considerations and preparations. They need the same items that you take for yourself, such as food, water, and first aid supplies. Fill your dog’s hiking pack with the essentials that will keep them safe in the Southeast Texas wilderness, and then follow our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Richmond team’s tips.

#1: First, do your research and learn about pet restrictions

Before packing up the dog for your trip, research any existing pet restrictions. National parks, public parks, forest preserves, and beaches may or may not allow dogs, or may allow dogs only in certain areas or during specific hours. Call ahead to ensure your dog can stay in a hotel or cabin. The last thing you want is to reach your destination and realize you must turn around and go home or re-route your trip.

#2: Pack the canine essentials

Pack everything your dog needs to maintain their regular daily routine, including food, water, collapsible travel bowls, poop bags, and medications. You’ll also want to take some first aid and emergency supplies, such as bandage material, an evacuation carry sling, tweezers, Benadryl, saline, and antibiotic cream or ointment. 

In addition, ensure your pet has a sturdy, reflective collar, a leash, and up-to-date identification tags. A microchip is the best permanent identification should your pet become lost, or their collar falls off or breaks. Bring booties and a waterproof, insulated jacket if you expect rough terrain, hot pavement, rain, or cold. Check the weather in advance to ensure you’re prepared.

Check this list to ensure you don’t forget any doggy essentials.

#3: Stay up to date on preventive pet care and parasite control 

Dogs who spend time in wooded outdoor areas are more exposed to disease and parasites from wildlife. Before your trip, consider vaccinating your dog for leptospirosis, a bacterial infection spread through urine from infected rodents and other wildlife, and Lyme disease, a tick-borne disease. Have our team check a fecal sample for intestinal parasites to ensure your dog doesn’t spread them to other animals on the trail. Apply an effective tick control product beforehand, and then check your pet for ticks frequently and carefully, so you can remove them promptly throughout your adventure. Schedule a visit with our team a month or so before your departure, so we can get your pet squared away for the trip.

#4: Keep your dog on a leash at all times

Stick to the trails and keep your dog leashed to prevent them from chasing or killing local wildlife and upsetting the natural ecosystem. Being leashed also prevents your pet from getting lost or approaching people or other dogs who may not be friendly or safe. Be mindful that not everyone appreciates dogs, and be respectful of other park or beachgoers. Keeping your dog close also makes picking up their waste easier, and prevents disease or bacteria from contaminating the environment and local fauna. 

#5: Take precautions to avoid heatstroke

Warm weather can be hazardous for any pet, especially when you’re exercising outdoors and have no access to indoor air conditioning for breaks. Keep your pet cool by carrying fresh, cold water and a collapsible bowl at all times—avoid letting them drink from ponds or streams, which could contain harmful or toxic bacteria, parasites, or algae. You can also try the following:

  • Wet down your pet’s fur and ears to facilitate evaporative cooling
  • Take frequent breaks in the shade
  • Bring along a battery-powered fan

Monitor your pet closely for overheating signs, which include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, reddened gums, confusion, or collapse. Ensure you know the nearest veterinary hospital’s location, and keep the number handy. 

Hiking and camping are great ways to bond with your pet, provide exercise and mental stimulation, and travel solo without actually being alone. Ensure you and your pet enjoy your trip by following our preparation and safety tips.

Contact the Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Richmond team to schedule an appointment for a pre-trip wellness visit, microchipping, parasite consultation, or vaccine boosters, or for help creating your pet’s first aid and supply kit.