A Massachusetts’ Dog Owner’s Guide To Hiking


This year more and more of my clients are going hiking. The snow has just melted and the weather is great for hiking here in Boston. Most of my clients aggressively underestimate the dangers of Hiking. For us the Blue Hills is a local favorite, and I encourage people to go, but most people are completely unaware of the real dangers every year. This year I was fed up with sick dogs coming into my office from things that are preventable when it comes to hiking.


This is the official, Massachusetts’ guide to Hiking the Blue Hills with a dog.


Comprehensive List before Hiking with your dog:

  1. Make sure you dog is up to date on his vaccinations (to see list click here).

    1. Your dog could run into wildlife and other strange dogs who are carrying something. It is dangerous out there.

  2. Dress appropriately for the weather conditions:

    1. Dress in layers and long sleeves to protect against mosquitos and ticks.

    2. Wear GOOD hiking shoes.

    3. Optional booties for dog depending on the conditions. Some areas have dangerous thornes, sticks and less clear trails.  

    4. Long socks so you can tuck your socks into your boots or shoes  

    5. Apply sunscreen, wear hat and Insect Spray. Make sure pet has flea and tick preventative medication/collar.

  3. In your backpack +/- pets back pack

    1. Food : trail mix,snacks and treats for pet

    2. Water: enough for you and your pet , collapsible water dish

    3. Pets can be poisoned from drinking out of puddles with algae bloom or catch Leptospirosis (bacteria shed in wildlife urine)

    4. First aid kit: Hand sanitizer, or wipes, Benadryl (good for insect bites or poison ivy) Neosporin and Bandaging for scrapes and cuts. Bandana for snake bites/cuts and various injuries that require a sling.

    5. Compass/Map, paper copy you may lose gps signal

    6. Multi-tool/knife,tweezers,  waterproof matches

    7. Additional Sunscreen and tick protection, Sunglasses

    8. Poop bags for bagging dog stool. Dispose of stool in proper containers do no do NOT bury in the ground.

    9. Extra leash loop in case leash or collar break.

    10. Sunscreen and insect spray as you will likely need more as it wears off.

    11. ID/phone/credit card/cash, Medical Insurance cards and ID tags on pet. Optional  microchip for pet.

    12. Long leash for Pet, so they can explore without losing them.

    13. Walking stick.

    14. Enjoy the journey and view. Get photos of beautiful scenery!!

    15. Take one piece of trash with you, so you leave nature cleaner than when you started.

    16. Be aware of dangers of stagnant bodies of water your dog can swim in. Green algae is poisonous and drinking the pond water can cause a dog to contract Giardia.


List After Hiking:

  1. Check all over for ticks before getting into your car to go home. Check your dog everywhere starting with head and working down between toes.

  2. Let dog relax in a cool area.   

  3. Take a shower when you get home to wash off any potential ticks before they attach.

  4. Provide food and water to your dog. Walking so much can definitely build up an appetite.


I am sure you are in shock right now. Who knew hiking with a dog required so much preparation? Our furry friends require a little extra effort but are well worth bringing on the journey. If you are not from the lovely state of Massachusetts, contact your veterinarian and I am sure they would be happy to put something together for you.

Please comment your thoughts, and veterinarians please comment with where you are from and other things people should watch out for in your area!

Now go out there and get hiking safely!

Dr. Meg Connelly