Veterinarians, dog experts, and dog enthusiasts are of the opinion that dogs have been domesticated to serve a particular purpose. This is the main reason why dogs have been selectively bred to retrieve game, pull a sled, or herd livestock. However, with the constant change in the lifestyle of pet parents, there has been a slight reduction in such purposes.
These days it’s common to find herding dogs living in suburban areas even when there are no available sheep or cattle to herd or sled dogs thriving in cities where sledding is not even a typical activity.
Due to this modification in their canine lifestyle, many dogs feel uninspired because they are not doing the job incorporated into their genes. These fur babies feel unfulfilled and may exhibit unruly behavior to divert their energy.
This is where dog backpacks come in — simple contraptions that can give dogs physical and mental challenges that can serve as distractions to maintain balance and calmness in both indoor and outdoor settings. However, even if this accessory looks simple to use and acquire, we should be responsible enough to finding the best available on the market to suit the needs of the dog using it.
If you mistakenly thought this was an article dedicated to backpacks you can carry your dogs in, then you may want to check out this wonderful article instead on backpacks for carrying dogs in.
Considerations for backpacks for dogs
When a pet parent is looking for an ideal backpack for his or her pet, there are several factors that should be considered before making the purchase. These backpacks may be simple accessories, but when badly mismatched, can actually pose long-term health complications. Remember that not all dogs are compatible with backpacks because of size, trainability, and innate personality. The most common dogs that wear backpacks are those under the sporting, herding, sledding, and therapy categories.
These dogs are anatomically compatible with backpacks due to their strong shoulder and back muscles that can carry a reasonable load, as well as the shape of their body that can allow a backpack to fit comfortably.
- Size — is important to ensure comfort whenever a dog wears its backpack. A backpack that is too tight or too loose will compromise balance and can become a bad kind of distraction because the dog will not be able to walk properly. Backpack sizes are typically classified into the four usual categories: Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large.
The size that you should get depends on your dog’s size and its corresponding weight. There are also custom sizes that are being offered by both local pet supply stores and online retailers that are not in the mainstream size categories, such as Extra Small and Triple Extra Large. Sizing will also determine whether the side pockets can accommodate the weight that will be loaded, because overloading will damage the pockets when used inappropriately.
- Shape — there are backpacks that follow the conventional design with side pockets and straps for proper fitting. However, due to competition and innovation, there are actually new designs that are being introduced. These designs deviate from the usual patterns due to the addition of a larger pocket or more segments on both sides that create both aesthetic appeal and function.
Keep in mind that some new designs can actually work, but always observe whether these additions can be beneficial to your dog or if it would be better to use the usual designs. The size will still depend on how much the dog can carry as an acceptable load.
- Fabric – backpacks for dogs are usually made with lightweight materials that are typically breathable and durable. The fabric and size should be coordinated to ensure a comfortable fit. By comparing the materials used, you can find the best backpack for your pooch. This can determine whether the fabric is strong enough to handle the weight placed inside the backpack without compromising comfort.
Materials used in the stitching and the type of stitching done, such as single and double stitching, can add up to the durability of the backpack. There are backpack fabrics that can only handle so much before they tear apart, so remember that if you are challenging your dog by adding more load, you are also stretching the backpack’s fabric natural strength. It is quite common to find that the more durable a backpack is, the more expensive it will be.
Tip: If you will be purchasing a backpack for your dog from a local pet supply store and not via an online store, always check the parts for any tears and missing stitches. Observe if the buckles and zippers are properly aligned to ensure a proper zipper mechanism, locking, and unbuckling.
The same tips can be applied to other accessories you get for your dog, such as hiking gear. To know what to look for, please check out this great article on dog hiking gear.
Additional features include reflective trimmings for safety and visibility, especially during low-light days or when walking at night. Backpacks can also be water resistant, designed for dogs that engage more in waterfowl hunting or field hunting in areas where weather is unpredictable. Water resistance is vital in making sure that the dog is not overly exposed to excessive water, as well as in promoting warmth and comfort despite the elements in the location.
Complications when choosing the wrong backpack
Selecting the best backpack for your dog is not just about choosing the perfect color, shape, or size. These features should only be part of the secondary considerations that will help you find the ideal backpack that will not hinder your dog’s activities whenever it wears this accessory. Here are the potential complications that a dog may experience when it wears an inappropriate backpack.
Curvature of the spine
Backpacks that are bigger than the recommended size for the dog that will wear it will be prone to receiving more excess weight then what it can endure. This introduces stress to the dog’s spine, curving it and compromising physical and anatomical function. This can be prevented at the earliest onset when you observe the dog is not quite as active as before, showing signs of weight bearing struggle whenever it wears a backpack that is not as suitable size. Getting the right size cancels out the possibility of spine injury.
Loss of natural balance
When the dog receives a smaller or larger backpack that what is recommended for it, this will result in a loss of natural balance because of the weight and strain that it will be subjected to upon wearing the backpack. There should be even weight distribution on both sides, as well as the front and rear portion of the backpack, to ensure that the normal balance is not compromised. This is essential for dogs that are full of energy and that need longer walks and more physical activity than other dog breeds.
While the loss of natural balance can be treated by correcting the weight distribution or reconsidering a new backpack, the possibility of an injury that can be received during use is considerably increased.
Increased muscle strain
When a backpack is too tight, it can add muscle strain, particularly to the shoulder and back muscles. These muscles are important whenever the dog is walking or running. Remember that unlike humans, walking and running for dogs involve holistic muscle movement, and additional strain aside from the tension in walking and running can hurt muscles and impede their repair, especially when the dog is in this kind of routine on a daily basis.
Compromised lung function
Because of the backpack’s location, there is a tendency to add tension to the chest area, which will make it a bit harder for the dog to breathe, especially when the load is too heavy or when the dog’s activity will include running and following a track. Make sure that the backpack is snug and secure enough, but not too tight around the chest and back.
Ideally, these complications should be addressed at the soonest possible time by consulting your dog’s veterinarian about the manifestations or symptoms that you have observed. However, if the symptoms have been observed at a later time, there can be additional interventions that have to be performed to address and treat health concerns with prompt medical intervention.
These actions will determine whether the dog can still wear a backpack without suffering from further health concerns or if should it be weaned off a backpack to avoid aggravating the symptoms.
Top 3 best dog backpacks
We were able to gather a list of the best-reviewed backpacks for dogs online based on rating, consumer reviews, and expert opinions from online dog discussions. These backpacks are available in different sizes and have a size guide that will help dog owners decide on the correct size for their dogs.
Kyjen Outward hound backpack
Amazon Rating: 4.2 out of 5.0 Stars based on 1,020 consumer reviews
The Kyjen Outward Hound backpack features a detachable pack that allows the weight to be removed from your dog during stops. It has bright-colored reflective accents for improved visibility during low-light days and dog walks at night. It is equipped with convenient pockets for carrying water and food. A mesh pocket can carry water bottles with ease. The Kyjen Outward Hound Backpack is ideal for dogs that weigh fifty to sixty-nine pounds, with girth size ranging from twenty to thirty-five inches.
This is the highest-rated dog backpack currently available in the market based on feedback and consumer reviews, primarily due to its conventional design that allows proper weight distribution. It is also the kind of backpack that does not compromise on style. It has a wide variety of colors available that will surely appeal to even the most design-centric pet parents.
If you think that this product could be useful for you, then you can check its price on Amazon.
Kurgo Wander dog backpack
Amazon Rating: 4.1 out of 5.0 stars based on 240 consumer reviews
The Kurgo Wander dog backpack is ideal for hiking along the trail or for an easy walk around town. This backpack is made from heavy-duty, high-quality polyester that can withstand even the rugged outdoors. The adjustable saddle system will ensure a customized fit.
This backpack is ideal for dogs that weigh from thirty to eighty-five pounds and is more inclined for use during rugged activities such as hiking. The Kurgo Wander Dog Backpack features a padded spine support that follows the contour of the dog’s back to prevent spine-related injury from tension, and it has four reflective strips as an added safety feature.
If you interested you can check the current deal for it on Amazon.
Ruffwear Approach dog backpack
Amazon Rating: 4.8 out of 5.0 stars based on 96 consumer reviews
The Ruffwear Approach dog backpack features a weight forward design that allows even weight distribution and reduction of spine and back-related tension. It has a harness frame that ensures further weight distribution, load stability, and overall balance and prevention of injury. This backpack also has an assistance handle, which is padded to allow the owner to help the dog by lifting it up over obstacles.
It is equipped with trail-ready features, such as stash pockets, external gear loops, and coated zippers. The Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack is ideal for dogs with girth size that range from thirty-two to forty-two inches.
Like this amazing product? Then you can check the current deal for it on Amazon.
Maintaining your pooch backpack
Like other dog accessories, backpacks should be taken care of to make sure that they will last longer. Investing in a good backpack will ensure lasting service and durability, which will range from several months to several years depending on the frequency of use and the exposure to the elements. While there are such features as backpacks being weatherproof, this does not mean that you should just let your dog simply wear this accessory and go.
Before washing the backpack, always check the pockets for any morsels or crumbs left, which may cause lodging as it is immersed in water. This can harbor bacterial growth that can cause complications or infection.
Backpacks designed for dogs should be cleaned and dried before being stored and used for the next activity. As a general rule, it is not recommended for these accessories to be machine-washed. A gentle wash with soap and water is going to be good enough to clean the visible dirt, and removal of mud. Make sure that the cleaning agent you’ll be using is not too strong, as it may irritate the dog’s skin during the constant friction that occurs every time the dog uses the backpack.
You may also consult your dog’s veterinarian if a power disinfectant or flea powder can be applied to the straps as part of the disinfection process. A dog backpack should be air-dried and not spin-dried or blow-dried, because spin-drying can damage the parts, whereas blow-drying can make the threads brittle and will wear off faster.
In combination with maintaining a backpack, the dog’s body parts that are in contact with the backpack should be brushed to promote air circulation and blood circulation to the skin. This also removes loose fur that impedes circulation and can harbor bacteria.
A backpack first-timer
Bear in mind that dogs that will be wearing a backpack for the first time have the possibility of exhibiting reluctance. This is considered as a normal behavior because this is something new and outside of their comfort zone. Do not force the dog to wear the backpack on the first attempt because this can lead to psychological trauma and stress.
You can make this a gradual process for both you and your dog because it will require a good amount of patience and time. The introduction of a backpack to the dog is important because how it will be associated as an experience will lead to long-term connection. If the dog had a favorable experience wearing a backpack for the first time and it was able to connect the experience to something positive such as a walk in the park or a short hike, then it will promote good emotional recall.
However, when a dog experienced trauma in fitting a backpack, then it can lead to traumatic experience that will be triggered whenever it will be wearing or seeing a backpack.
Once the dog becomes acclimated to the experience of wearing a backpack, you as the dog owner can observe whether the accessory has a comfortable fit. There are backpacks that are comfortable when worn in a resting position but are straining when already engaging in an activity, such as walking and running. This can observed when the straps look stretched. There can even be a faint, stretching sound heard. When this occurs, you can adjust the straps by loosening them to a more comfortable fit.
Dogs in backpack for the long-term
Dogs that will be successfully trained to wear backpacks are in for a wonderful experience of sharing long walks and hikes with their pet parents. To some, it is just another accessory, but for others in a deeper dog–owner relationship, it is a matter of mutual bonding that will last for years.
A backpack can remind a dog of its purpose and can let it know that it has worth and that its owner appreciates its effort to stay by his side with the load it is carrying. It is an experience that promotes more enjoyable moments of bonding, improved self-confidence for the dog, and a stronger definition of a companion in the field as the dog gains another purpose.
To ensure that your dog is always comfortable, whether it’s for the short- or long-term, you should check out this great list of tips and tricks when you’re backpacking with your dog.