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The Manual: Take Your Dog Hiking

Make Fido's next trip doggie heaven with our tips on finding pooch-friendly trails, loading a dog pack, and treating injuries.
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Keep your pet healthy

Food Start with your regular brand and portion size, advises Michelle Richardson, vet at the Alpine Animal Clinic in Helena, Montana–increasing the amount by up to 50 percent based on his fitness, typical exercise, and the hike’s difficulty. (Rule of thumb: one cup of food per 20 pounds of dog per day.) Give him a small serving about an hour before hiking for extra energy.

Water Use your own thirst as a guide and offer water when you stop to drink–every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on trail difficulty and temperature. And yes, dogs can get Giardia. In high-risk areas–lots of cattle or campers–limit drinking from lakes and streams with a leash, voice commands, and a ready supply of treated water.

Training Build up to longer trips (with both adult dogs and puppies) with a series of shorter hikes to toughen paw pads and develop stamina. Richardson advises waiting until your puppy has received all his shots (about five months) before taking him on the trail, and keeping hikes shorter than one hour to start.

First aid Pack bandages and an antiseptic (such as iodine) for wounds, a liquid bandage (such as 3M Pet Care Spray-On Liquid Bandage; $9, for split or cut paw pads, and tweezers for tick removal (check your dog each night).

Make Your Own Dog Booties
Prevent paw-pad cuts and scrapes with this easy DIY project. You’ll need fabric (midweight nylon, fleece, denim) and 1-inch-wide Velcro strips.

1) Cut two rectangles of fabric. Width should be 1 inch wider than paw; length should be 5 to 8 inches, depending on size of dog.
2) Cut a strip of Velcro. Length should be
the circumference
of dog’s ankle plus 1.5 inches.
3) Sew rectangles together on three sides, leaving a
.25-inch seam.
4) Turn right-side-out. Sew 1.5 inches of Velcro to top of bootie, hook side up. Sew the rest loop side down, leaving enough extra Velcro to secure bootie around dog’s ankle.

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