ASK THE VET: Too much weight in doggy backpack can injure hiking pet – Arkansas OnlineApril 25, 2022
Q: Tank, my 3-year-old Rottweiler, backpacks with me most weekends. I think he’s old enough to carry his own pack. How much weight can he carry safely?
A: Tank is a lucky guy to spend time outdoors with you, and backpacking sounds like fun.
Buy him a top-quality doggy backpack that fits well and has enough padding that it won’t chafe. Let him carry it empty for a couple of weeks.
Then add a load that weighs up to 10% of his body weight. If Tank weighs 120 pounds, that’s up to 12 pounds — total, including the pack.
Make sure to balance the load and watch him closely throughout your hikes. Remove the pack each time you stop to rest or view the scenery.
If Tank seems comfortable and he’s moving well, gradually increase the amount of weight in his pack. Most healthy adult dogs eventually can carry up to 25% of their lean body weight. If he slows down or shows any sign of distress, remove the added weight.
Never put anything really important, like your money or an extra pair of glasses, in Tank’s backpack. If he wanders off and loses his pack, you’ll be in trouble.
Similarly, don’t put anything in his pack that needs to stay dry in case he suddenly flops down in the lake you’re hiking past. You don’t want your energy bars or his kibble to get soggy.
Dogs don’t function well as weekend warriors, so walk Tank daily or almost every day so he remains fit for your weekend hikes. You don’t want him to sprain a ligament or strain a muscle or tendon when you’re far from your car.
Watch him closely on hot, humid days, especially when the sun beats down on his dark coat. Dogs are unable to regulate body temperature well, so you might need to lighten his load and shorten the hike.
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