There is a way of living the Camino de Santiago in which you can enjoy your solitude while still having the best company at all times. By doing a pilgrimage with your true best friend: your dog.
If you are thinking about taking it with you, here are some good tips so that both pilgrims and doggies can enjoy the experience and further strengthen the bond between both.
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Which is the best Way of Saint James to do with a dog?
If we are going to live this experience with our pet, it is convenient to make sure before starting that we will have at our disposal shelters or accommodations where we can spend the night that allow our dog to accompany us and so it does not have to stay outside at night.
That is why the best Ways of Santiago to do with a dog are the French Way or even the Portuguese Way, as they are the ones with the most services, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding accommodations that accept pets.
However, you can always leave your experience in the hands of an agency that is in charge of planning your trip in detail. This way you will travel with the certainty that your pet will be by your side at all times, receiving the attention that you both deserve.
Whichever path you choose, our advice is not to do more than 120 kms in total since walking a longer distance may be excessive for your dog. This is more than enough to be able to get your Pilgrim’s Credential without problems since the minimum distance to do on foot is 100 kms.
Regarding the season, we also recommend spring and autumn, since the temperatures will be milder so that your dog will not be extremely cold or exposed to high temperatures during the hottest months of summer.
Physical preparation of your pet
In the same way that you, as a pilgrim, need to prepare for the journey that awaits you on the Camino de Santiago, your dog must be ready and fit for this experience.
That is why it is convenient that in the previous days he accompanies you in your training, so that he also gets used to long walks on all types of terrain. The main goal is for your pet to toughen up and prepare his pads for the Trail, so don’t limit yourself to soft or dirt roads.
You can also buy special “shoes” for pets, although it will depend on how well your dog gets used to these types of accessories (from experience we know that they do not always adapt themselves to these as easily as we would like).
You can divide the daily walks in two, if you don’t have enough time to dedicate many hours, taking a long walk first thing in the morning and another one again in the afternoon. Walking 15-20 kms should be more than enough.
What is also very important is that in these previous days you correctly deworm your pet internally and externally. Keep in mind that some dewormers take a few days to work, but they last for several months. Do not forget older people to put a flea and anti-mosquito collar: in this way you will avoid bites that can transmit leishmaniasis to your pet.
What to bring in your backpack for your dog
If you are going to do the Camino de Santiago with your dog, reserve a space in your backpack for its accessories and care so that it does not lack anything and can follow you on your trip without problems.
These are some of the essential things that should not be missing for the care of your pet during the pilgrimage:
In the same way that you carry your ID or passport and the health card, your dog must carry at least his own passport, where the data of his microchip and the vaccines received are indicated. You can also carry its own Credential, equivalent to your Pilgrim Credential.
Keep in mind that mandatory vaccinations may vary from one autonomous community to another in Spain, as well as the breeds considered potentially dangerous.
If you are going to do a stage of the Camino with your dog in a different autonomous community or country, make sure you do it by taking the appropriate and mandatory measures (vaccinations, use of a muzzle, liability insurance, etc.).
Reflective leash and collar or harness
Many pilgrims who make the Camino with dogs prefer to start their stages earlier to avoid the most excessive heat hours for their pets.
Especially in these hours of the day with less visibility, you should carry your dog tied and visible, so a good leash and a harness or collar with reflectors will allow you to walk safely.
Pad cream or vaseline
In addition to being a good weapon against pilgrims’ blisters, vaseline will be very useful to hydrate your dog’s pads well at night.
You can also opt for a special cream for your care, thus avoiding cracking and pain.
Food and drinker
In addition to his favorite feed, during the Camino you must ensure that your dog stays well hydrated. A folding drinker will be very useful, since they take up little space in the backpack and you can take it out at any time.
We also recommend that you bring their prizes or dog biscuits: your best friend deserves it after accompanying you during a long day of walking.
Caring for your dog along the way
During each stage it is important that we pay attention to our pet to ensure that it accompanies us during the Camino without complications. Check his legs frequently to see that there are no cuts or wounds on his pads and he can follow the route without any problem.
Remember to keep your dog tied, especially on stretches of road but also between towns. During the stops you make or in some green areas you can release it without problem so that it continues at its own pace and frees itself for a while.
In addition to the necessary breaks to refresh and hydrate, do not forget to pay attention to their diet. It is not advisable to feed him just before starting the walk, as it could make him feel bad, but you can give him a treat or snack during the day to regain his strength. In any specialized store or veterinary clinic they will be able to advise you on this type of supplements that contain vitamins and other very beneficial components for your pet.
At the end of the day, let him rest and give him his good portion of food. For this adventure, you may consider using wet food instead of your normal dry food: this type of food contains many nutrients, in addition to water, which will help it stay hydrated as it should.