Snowshoeing with Dogs

When we go snowshoeing we have the usuals we pack with us: compass, first aid kit, emergency kit (including matches, hand-warmers, emergency blankets), flashlight, snacks, extra gloves/hats etc. Read this post I wrote about snowshoeing safely: Snowshoeing Safety Tips.

Now that we have Bella we bring extra stuff for her. She has a little pack that she wears when we hike that carries her “gear.” It’s not heavy and she doesn’t mind the pack. In her pack are poo bags, her collapsible water dish, her booties, and extra snacks.

We recently went snowshoeing and decided to leave Bella at home. While we had the gear and stuff for her, it was just a better idea. Sure it would be nice to have her with us whenever we go out and play in the snow, but sometimes the temperature is just too severe (and 15 degrees was definitely too cold for her!). The thing is, it makes a difference what kind of dog you have. You got a big fluffy husky or a dog with lots of hair? They would probably be okay in snow and low temperatures like that. But our Miss Bella has very short hair and a bare belly so not a good plan for her. So after you make the decision on temperatures and your own dog, go ahead and read some of these tips:


Check for signs of hypothermia.

This was something I didn’t know a lot about before we got a dog. When we take her hiking, I keep an eye on her for changes in behavior due to weather. When we hike in the summer we make sure she gets a ton of water and plenty of rest in the shade when it’s hot. There have been times when she was panting a LOT and I was concerned she was overheating. We’re still figuring things out. Hypothermia is scary because it can happen so fast.

“Puppies and elderly dogs are especially susceptible; watch for shivering, slowed breathing or dilated pupils, signs of a dangerous drop in body temperature. We pack plenty of snacks and water, and examine our Labs’ paws frequently for the ice and snow that can clump between pads.  (source)”


Check the paws frequently.

Snow and ice can get stuck between the pads and chafe, cut, freeze or cause loss of traction. Bella has a history of paw injuries so we are super diligent about checking her paws on a regular basis and taking steps to make sure they are protected. Some of the things I’ve used are the following products:

Musher’s Secret – It’s similar to vaseline in consistency. We tried this for a little bit snowshoeing but I realized it came off too easily and we switched to her booties (which was a good decision).

Eqyss Mega Tek Coat Rebuilder — This is what I use on Bella’s paws when they are starting to feel rough. I used this after our snowshoeing trip and after every hike for a few days afterward to protect and build her paws back up.

Ultra Paws Rugged Dog Boot — These boots are AMAZING. They have helped Bella so much with her paw issues! I would never snowshoe without these. They are a must. 

It’s a good idea to stick to trails that are compacted and not super deep. Having booties will do nothing if the dog sinks down into deep snow.



Bring plenty of snacks for the dog.

Bella got some treats for Christmas so I packed them along with us and we stopped a lot for treats. I knew she’d be burning a lot of calories and energy playing in the snow and I wanted to make sure she was okay. It’s a good idea to pack a “survival” kit for your dog when going hiking or snowshoeing.

Bring enough water for you AND the dog.

Get a collapsible water bowl. It’s great! It’s easy to pack in her pack, or ours, and we stop a lot for her to have water breaks. She’s pretty intuitive and knows when she needs water and when she’s done drinking. So make sure to pack enough water for you AND your dog. And stop frequently for water and snack breaks.

Bring a small, waterproof blanket/towel for the dog to sit/rest on.

This is something I didn’t even think about until I read some articles online. It makes sense. When stopping for a break, it’s a good idea to have one so the dog doesn’t have to sit in the snow and they get a break that isn’t freezing cold. DUH. I’d tell her to sit and she looked so miserable. I get it Bella, sorry!! Parent fail.


Stay on trail.

This is something I just do anyways. Dog or no, I am not into back-country snowshoeing or hiking off trail. It’s just not a good idea. Unless you are a seasoned hiker with maps and GPS and survival skills, it’s a bad idea and you’ll most likely end up on the news. 😛 So be smart, stay on the trail and keep your dog safe by doing this too!

In the same vein….Keep dog on the leash. You never know what dangers are out there. Other animals, wild animals, cliffs, lakes partially iced over, snow banks, TREE WELLS!!–a million dangers are out there. It’s just wise to keep the dog on the leash at all times while hiking/snowshoeing.

What are some of your go-to tips you have regarding hiking/snowshoeing with your dogs?

How to Burn 1100 Calories in One Workout

Snowshoeing! That’s how you burn 1100 calories in one morning!

Michael and I woke up at 6am Saturday morning, ate breakfast and met our friends Dave, Kat and their baby Norah for a snowshoeing adventure on Mt. Hood. It was a nice, scenic drive up to Mt. Hood with sunshine and farmland. I knew that it would be packed because of the long weekend (for some people) and because this week the mountain had NICE NEW snow for the first time in about a month. We lucked out and got there early before the crowds arrived.

Norah is about 8 months old and this was her first snowshoeing experience. She was such a good little girl, too! She was fussy in the parking lot but I don’t blame her–it was freezing. The wind chill was awful. But once we all suited up and headed down the trail she was loving being outdoors. Dave has the coolest carrier for her too. It even had a mesh little tent to protect her from the elements.

We decided to try Trillium Lake again. Michael and I had done it on New Year’s Eve and had a great time–despite the horrible shoe malfunctions and 10 degree weather–but we were disappointed we never made it to Trillium Lake. I spoke to a coworker that is a cross-country skiier and he said that we’d taken the wrong fork in the road. This time we took the left fork.

Once we got out of the parking lot and into the trees the wind died down and the temperature wasn’t that bad. I often didn’t need to use my gloves–a nice change from the last time I snowshoed (the last few times to be honest). We trekked along. Norah fell asleep in her backpack. We stopped to take photos along the way and saw a few other people out there.

We were all about the same pace and I was having a great time. I didn’t feel any discomfort in my legs or knee and was actually feeling pretty darn good for a change. The weather was perfect–about 40 degrees I think, sunny, clear skies and no rain.

There were a few more hills this route. I wasn’t bothered by them and felt my heart rate increasing. I knew I’d be happy with the number of calories I was burning for the day.

Michael was his usual goofball self (adorable) but I’m happy to report that his back wasn’t bothering him too much and he was able to snowshoe the whole time. It wasn’t until the very last part of the trek that his hip started to hurt. 🙁  That is one thing about snowshoeing: you WILL feel your hips. Because you walk with a wider stance than normal to accommodate the snowshoes it’s easy to feel some discomfort there. I realized that this may aggravate my IT Band so I take 1 Aleve right before I snowshoe and then right afterward. That helps a lot.

So we trekked up and down some hills, passed a few skiers, saw some fellow snowshoers and then arrived at Trillium Lake. It’s quite scenic in the summertime. Today it was frozen over, covered in snow and Mt. Hood was hidden by some clouds.

Still scenic but not quite the same. Since we were in a clearing with no tree protection the bitter wind was back. The five of us hiked around the edge of the frozen lake through some trees, over a snow covered bridge and then to a shelter where we stopped to rest and have some snacks.

At this point we’d been snowshoeing for about 1.5 hours and I was nearing 560 calories burned. We rested for about 20 minutes, shared some trail mix, I drank some G2 and they fed the baby. We were all getting cold so we hit the road and headed back through the trees toward the main road back.

It felt like it was uphill the whole way back. No idea how that happened! We passed by a cross-country skier with two gorgeous huskies. There were a lot of dogs out today. And they were having a blast playing in the snow!

The last half mile or so was pretty much all UPHILL and I felt my energy dwindling. Michael’s hip was really hurting climbing that killer hill. We rested a lot, which is okay. It’s better to rest than to hurt!

We made it back to the car, got out of our snow gear and settled in for lunch. Dave had the wise idea that we should bring packed lunches for afterward. I was suddenly famished. I devoured my turkey sandwich on Sandwich Thin bread, two pickles and then Kat kindly gave me the last few bites of her amazing baguette sandwich.


Time: 3:11

Calories Burned: 1089

Miles: 3??

It was such an awesome day! I had a blast. The weather was good. Our snowshoes were fantastic (so glad we bought them) and I got in a good and FUN workout. When Michael and I got home we immediately took a nap. It ruled.

I’m glad we’re getting good use out of our shoes!

QUESTION: How many calories did you burn today?