A dog can be a wonderful companion on your hikes. Unlike your friends who complain, grumble, and throw tantrums on trails, a dog peacefully weathers the elements and keeps on going like a true loyal companion. My dog Sam has been my partner on hikes for years, and his enthusiasm and passion had kept me going at times when I did not even feel like taking a step. I have treated my dog as a friend since he was born. I have watched him develop from a lively puppy to a wise old dog.

Just like humans, old dogs suffer from health ailments. Sam has arthritis, which makes it difficult for him to be nimble, like in the past. But his enthusiasm for a good hike has not vanished and he still eagerly accompanies me on all my hikes. With experience, I have learned a great deal about his needs and I want all fellow dog lovers to benefit from my tips on hiking with an old dog.

1. Hike on Shorter Loops

Hiking with an older dog does not automatically mean that you have to cut down on the distance. Plan your hikes in such a way that there are shorter loops in your journey so that you are never too far away from the origin. It is hard to predict when your dog may give up and you have to carry him back home. Hiking on a shorter loop means that you will have to cover a shorter distance to reach your van or car while carrying your dog.

2. Mind the Temperature

Dogs, especially the ones with a heavy fur coat find it difficult to hike on a hot day. Avoid extremely hot weather conditions while hiking with your old dog. Do not hike when the midday heat is at its peak. Hiking in cooler conditions will facilitate your dog’s stamina and he will be able to hike for longer.

3. Find Trails with Water Reservoirs

An old dog has high water requirements. It is not easy to carry a lot of water in your baggage as the extra weight makes walking difficult. Before planning hikes, look for trails which have a lot of water reservoirs like rivers and lake on the way. This way you won’t have to carry additional weight and your dog will be happy slurping on an abundant supply of water.

4. Take of the Pack off your Dog’s

When he was a youngster, your dog would have carried your supplies in his own backpack. But now when he is older, it is your turn to return the favor. Carry your dog supply in your backpack and let him walk with comfort. Lighter weight on his back will mean he will not tire easily and you will be able to complete your hike comfortably.

5. Timely Care at Regular Intervals

A dog suffering from health ailments like osteoporosis requires timely attention for staying healthy on the trail. Take time out of your hike and take rest at regular intervals. Administer prescribed medicines to your dog while resting near a pond or a lake so that he can also hydrate himself. Carry your dog’s medicines in a separate pouch or sachet so that you have easy access to them.

6. Take your Dog to a Vet before a Hike

Taking your dog to a vet before a hike is not a bad idea. This way you will be able to find out if your dog is in the right condition to go out with you. Get all the basic tests done and set your mind free.