Hiking in Washington is a hugely popular way to enjoy the beauty of our state and spend some quality time with our canine (and feline) companions. Any seasoned hiker will be familiar with carrying the 10 essentials when hiking, but what should you bring along when hiking with your dogs?

In this post I'll share the 10 essentials for safely hiking with your dogs in Washington. And most are applicable for cats, too!

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#1 - The Basics

Food, water and poo bags should be a staple even just when out at a local park. But especially so when hiking with your four-legged (or three-legged) friends. Be sure to bring plenty of water for them and extra food just in case.

When it comes to poo, always be sure to pack it out. Don't just leave it on the trails, and especially not if you've bagged it. Using something like an Opsak Bag can help pack away the poo bag until you're in a position to dispose of it properly without having to deal with the stink. Another option could also be an old Pringles can.

Learn more about why you should pack out pet waste here.


#2 - Leash and harness with ID tags and tracker

It shouldn't have to be said, but leashes should always be used on trails. Not only is it the law for most trails, but it's also for everyone's safety and enjoyment of the Washington wilderness.

Be sure to use a standard leash and NOT a retractable leash so you have full control of your dog at all times, especially in case of an emergency. Leashes with handles are great for that extra bit of safety and for holding your pup close when passing other hikers.

A brightly colored (and even reflective) harness is ideal when hiking instead of a simply collar. In the event your dog gets lost it's possible they can slip out of their collar (and ID tags/trackers). Using a harness will help prevent that as well as give you something to grab onto in case of emergency such as a slip in a river.

Did you know I once pulled a client's dog out of a river? Watch the IG reel about it here.

GPS trackers like the Fi collar or Whistle Tracker are also a great thing to have when hiking in the event they get lost. Unlike a microchip, you can actually track your pet with GPS and find them.


Senior boston terrier on a mossy rock in Olympia - 10 essentials for hiking with your dog

#3 - Pack For Them To Carry Stuff

You've got your own 10 essentials to carry (and more if you're backpacking). Why not have your dog handle their share of the load?

Using a pack for dogs can also be a great way to build muscle and strength, as well as give them a job to do. It can also help to calm/slow down the crazier pups on the trails.

Be sure to size them appropriately to your dog to avoid chaffing and altering their stride. One thing you have to keep an eye on is even weight distribution as you use or add things. can also help calm/slow down crazy dogs


#4 - Visibility

Visibility is important, especially during hunting season, cloudy/foggy days or twilight hours.

Using things like collar lights and brightly colored gear can make a huge difference in making sure your pets are kept safe and visible.


Bengal cat on a log in the woods in Federal Way - The 10 Essentials for Hiking with Your Dog or cat

#5 First Aid Kit

We never want to have to use it, but it's important to be prepared for any emergencies during your time in the woods with your pets.

Here's a list of items to add to your own first aid kit:

It can also be beneficial to take a local pet first aid and CPR class so you're prepared for anything that may happen on the trails.

#6 - Emergency Carry Pack

This one was recommended in a local hiking group on Facebook, and I think it's simply genius!

When it comes to small dogs who may get hurt on a trail, it's no problem to pick them up and carry them back to the car or campsite. But what about bigger dogs?

This Fido Pro-Airlift sling is perfect for just such situations. This will enable you to be able to safely and comfortably carry your medium to large dog back down the trails so they can get the medical care they need as quickly as possible.

Be sure to practice using it at home so they are comfortable with it should it be needed and don’t get more stressed in an already stressful situation.

Dachshund on a bench in the wood in Snoqualmie Pass - The 10 Essentials for Hiking with Your Dog or cat

#7 - Heat Protection

It may seem like it rains all the time in Washington, but in recent years our summers have been getting hotter and hotter. So we have to be sure to help our fur-covered friends keep their cool while hiking with us.

Cooling vests are a fantastic way to do so, especially for our double coated friends like malamutes.

Another suggestion is a cooling bandana that you can wet down and place around their neck like a normal bandana (you can also do the same for yourself, too).

Shade is of course a great way to stay cool as well. A shade tent can be super helpful if you know you're going to be on a rather exposed trail instead of comfortably under tree-cover.


#8 - Sun Protection

Did you know dogs should wear sunscreen? It's true! All dogs can benefit from sun screen around areas such as the nose, lips, belly and groin area - areas that aren't covered with much fur. Also white dogs can be more prone to sunburn as well.

Be sure to use a pet safe sunscreen like this one from Epi-Pet! Sunscreen is NOT recommended for use on cats.

Another tool to have in your sun protection arsenal is eye protection like Rex Specs. These aren't just great for dogs with already diagnosed eye conditions but for dogs with light colored eyes or who are older as well.

Check out local doggo Sterling who often rocks his Rex Specs and loves them!

They're also great for windy conditions, too.

White cat in the woods in Seattle, standing on a stump  - The 10 Essentials for Hiking with Your Dog or cat

#9 - Foot Protection

Keeping your pets feet protected is a must. They may have four of them, but they need them for all the hiking and zooming around!

One great way to do so is with adorable little booties! While not a necessity, they can be really helpful in areas that may be extra rocky or in snowy areas.

Another thing to consider when not using booties is the type of terrain you're going to be on.

Musher's Secret comes highly recommended in almost all dog groups for dry pads or snowy conditions, protecting their paw pads and keeping them hydrated.


#10 - Treats, and lots of them

This one comes directly from your pets! Be sure to bring lots of treats along for the ride. Hiking and trails are a great chance to work on training and keep things fun as well.

Dog jumping in front of two mountains in Snoqualmie Pass  - The 10 Essentials for Hiking with Your Dog or Cat

And that's it for the 10 essentials for hiking with your dog or cat.

Whether you're heading for an easy trail for a few hours or backpacking through the wilderness for a few days, having the 10 essentials for yourself and hiking with your dog will ensure a safe and confident time for everyone.

Did you find this post helpful? Anything you would add to the list?

Are you ready to embark on the Marie Wulfram Photography experience with your furry companion? If so, I’d love to hear all about the special dog in your life!


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