There’s nothing like the great outdoors: New sights to see, new smells to smell, new things to pee on, and interesting places to poop. You don’t need to leave your pup at home when you go on your outdoor adventure, but having the right gear is essential. Even though the backpacker, hiker or boater in your life probably has the basics for their canine companions, these gifts can enhance their experience, lessen their worry and make their journeys even more pleasant and fun than they already are.
Every outdoors-person knows the adage “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories.” While it’s fine to bury your own leavings, dog poop can wreak havoc on the ecosystem and can give other dog owners pause as they hike the same trails as you — after all, you can never be sure if the dog who pooped in that spot last was vaccinated or not. These biodegradable poop bags come in a handy little holder and decompose in as few as 24 months — a much shorter time than other poop bags. They’re also lavender scented, so you don’t have to cringe at the thought of hauling your dog’s scat out of the great outdoors with you, no matter how long your hike may be.
Even if you don’t plan to be out after dark, nighttime can sneak up on you when you’re enjoying time in your favorite nature spot. This clip-on beacon acts as a reflector and also has a blinking light so that you can easily locate your dog after nightfall. It also alerts others to your dog’s presence — a courtesy if you’re hiking popular trails.
Accidents happen and we rarely think about them until we have to. Do you know what to do if your dog chokes on a branch, twists his ankle on the trail or swallows too much water while swimming? This handy field guide to canine first aid teaches you the basics of emergency dog care and more, affording you precious knowledge to patch up your pet until you can reach a vet in the event of an emergency. Read it before you hit the trails and keep it in your first aid kit just in case — this book is a must for every outdoor enthusiast with a beloved furry friend.
It squeaks, it floats, it’s lightweight yet durable enough for even the most intrepid chewers. When you’re away from home, you and Fido can unwind with these toys made from pre-consumer firehose material. They’ll stand up to any weather, and if your pooch isn’t too tired out from a day of outdoor activities, he’ll be glad for the distraction as you set up camp.
Two legs or four, we all have to eat and drink. These waterproof food and water bowls fold up smaller than your palm and flat enough to fit in your pocket. The heavy duty nylon bowls weigh less than one ounce and hold up to one pound of food or 16 ounces of water. They’re inexpensive enough to make a great stocking stuffer — get one for food and one for water, or buy a whole handful to keep sprinkled throughout your home, car, and backpack.
Unless you’re a lucky outdoors-person, your dog probably attracts ticks in the summer like a lightbulb attracts moths. Ticks are vectors for disease and are pretty uncomfortable to have on you — if your dog could talk, she’d surely agree. Save yourself the trouble of fumbling with fingernails or tweezers by getting this handy little gadget to remove all sizes of ticks — it attaches to your key ring, so you’ll never be without it. Simply scrape it across your dog’s skin to remove the tick, head and all. No mess, no muss, no fuss and most of all, no ticks!
Has the outdoors-person in your life been extra nice this year? Splurge and get them this nifty backpack so their dog can carry her own weight on hikes. The Singing Dog Hydropack I is made of lightweight nylon webbing and has pockets deep enough to carry water bottles (for both human and canine hydration), as well as any extra necessities like poop bags, food bowls and toys.
Sore feet and sore paws can ruin a hike before it even starts. Musher’s secret is a protective salve that forms a semi-permeable coating that prevents irritation and cracking for sensitive paws. Protecting against salt, sand, hot asphalt and more, it’s non-toxic, non-allergenic and non-staining, and isn’t just useful for paws. It also provides relief for fly bites, sores and anything else that might bother your pooch in the great outdoors. Get two tins, because you may end up using it yourself!
Unless you’re a super-light hiker or prefer to really rough it, chances are you carry a pad to put under your sleeping bag. Why not afford your best friend the same courtesy? This pet bed folds up into its very own stuff sack that you can attach to your backpack and will give your dog a good night’s sleep on even the rockiest, roughest terrain.
Even if your dog can swim well and loves the water, a life jacket is a must-have item for avid boaters. Even the most experienced swimmer can get caught up in a rough current or pulled off course by attractive distractions (is that a duck?). This life jacket is made to keep your dog afloat but allow freedom of movement. There are minimal straps or buckles for a decreased chance of snagging or catching debris or hazards.
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About Caitlin Seida: Owned by three cats and two dogs, she never met an animal she didn’t like. A Jill-of-All-Trades, she splits her workday as a writer, humane society advocate and on-call vet tech. What little free time she has goes into pinup modeling, advocating for self-acceptance, knitting and trying to maintain her haunted house (really!).