Does your dog have lots of extra energy that they need to burn off? Hiking is a perfect way to bond with your dog while getting in a ton of exercise. A dog is the perfect hiking companion. They’re always eager to hit the trail, but they will require extra planning.
You need to get your dog trail-ready, plan a safe trip and make sure you have all the gear your dog needs. This includes a first aid kit, extra food/treats, and most important of all water. How much water does a dog need for a hike?
How Much Water Does A Dog Need on a Hike?
Being on the trail all day is going to require a lot of food and water. You’ll need to carry way more than you think.
Large dogs usually drink somewhere between .5-1.0 ounces of water per pound of body weight. Smaller dogs(under 20lbs) usually need about 1.5oz per lb. On hot days and long strenuous hikes you will need to provide additional water.
On long hot hikes, dogs will get thirsty just like us. If you’re not taking enough breaks and starting to get thirsty, there’s a pretty good chance your dog is too. Takes lots of food/water breaks and get try to get plenty of rest.
Let Your Dog Carry His Own Water
Setting my dog Zoey up with her own pack was a real lifesaver. She carries her own water(2 Liter Pouches), food, bed and a few toys. Definitely check out the Ruffwear Lineup of Dog Packs if you plan on doing a lot of hiking.
I ended up buying the Ruffwear Palisades pack for my dog and it’s so worth it. It’s extremely rugged, durable and big enough to store gear for multiple days on the trail. Check out the video below for more info.
How Much Weight Can My Dog Carry?
Generally speaking, a young/healthy dog can carry about 25% of their body weight. Obviously, some dogs will be able to carry more/less. Just start out light and slowly build up weight.
Don’t Forget a Water Container
Although dogs can usually get away with drinking non-purified water it’s always best to carry along fresh water and a collapsible bowl. Just get a small collapsible dog bowl and stick it in your pack.
I’ve always used the plastic bowls that fold in on themselves, but I like to carry a lightweight fabric backup as well. The plastic one latches to the outside of my pack for easy access and the fabric one goes in my first aid kit.
You might also want to check out the PupFlask (pictured above) which has a built-in water bowl. It’s really convenient on shorter 3-4 hour hikes but somewhat small for my needs. For a full day hike you would probably need to bring an extra water bottle or 2.
A Few Factors To Consider
- How Long is The Hike? You will obviously need more water on longer hikes. Bring 2L of water for large dogs, and 1L of water for small to medium-sized dogs on your typical day hike. You will need to carry more water in hot weather.
- How Old is Your Dog? Be careful when hiking with senior dogs. Older dogs are much more susceptible to heatstroke and will require lots of water and extra breaks. Limit your overall hiking distance as your dog gets older.
- How Big is Your Dog? Bigger dogs will obviously need additional water. Large/Medium Dogs=(.5-1oz/lb Body Weight) and Small Dogs=(1.5oz/lb Body Weight)
- What Breed is Your Dog? Some breeds are better at hiking than others. A bulldog will have a much harder time hiking than a labrador. Plan around your dogs physical fitness level and make sure the hike is safe for your dog.
- What’s The Weather? Hot and humid weather will require more water for both you and your dog. When the temperature is close to 80°+ you need to double your water.
- Does Your Dog Have a Pack? Set your dog up with his own pack so they can carry their own water. My dog can carry 2L of water, food, bed, and a few toys in her Ruffwear Pack.
You Need More Water Breaks on Hot Days
Think about how much water you usually drink on a hot summer day. You should be sipping a little bit of water every 15-20 minutes. That’s how often your dog should be drinking water too.
Make sure your water is easy to access and stop for a quick breaks 3-4 times per hour. A dog can’t tell you when they need a drink. It’s your job to be a good dog owner and stay on top of it.
Big Dogs Need More Water
Bigger dogs will always need more water than smaller dogs. Plan on carrying at least 2 Liters of water for your dog on a typical day hike.
Since my dog weighs about 50lbs I usually just bring 2 of the 32oz Nalgene water bottles. That’s usually about the perfect amount of water for a day hike. Bigger dogs will probably need a little more and smaller dogs need less.
Remember that you can usually find a water source somewhere along the trail to fill up. I always carry a pack of potable aqua purification tablets just in case we need extra water.
Just carry a couple of bottles and top them off every time you see a halfway decent water source. Toss in 1 purification tablet and wait 35 minutes for clean water.
Watch Out For Signs of Dehydration in Dogs
I know how hard it can be to stop for regular water breaks. Stopping 3-4 times per hour seems excessive on most days(it might be). Unless it’s ridiculously hot your dog probably won’t even want water every 20 minutes.
Honestly, it’s really hard to say just how often you need to stop so it’s better to err on the side of caution. If you end up going longer between water breaks just keep an eye out for signs of dehydration.
The easiest way to tell if your dog is dehydrated is to grab the scruff on his back. If the skin stays up kind of like a tent they’re dehydrated. Read this article from the American Kennel Club for more info and check out the video below for a demonstration from a veterinarian.
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Dry nose, gums and eyes
- Drop in energy, lethargy and loss of appetite
- Thick saliva and excessive panting
- Vomiting and diarrhea