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Backpacker Radio

Dec 11, 2020

In today's episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek we are joined by Dr. Kristina Kiefer (that's back to back doctor episodes for those keeping score at home).  Dr. Kiefer is a veterinarian with a PhD in Veterinary Regenerative Medicine from the University of Minnesota.  But, of greater interest to you, not only does Dr. Kiefer have the medical expertise to advise about hiking with your dog, but she also walks the walk, having done significant miles on trail with her own pup.  Although we've broached the hiking with your dog subject on previous podcasts, Dr. Kiefer offers us concrete advice rooted in science. And seeing as both of your Backpacker Radio co-hosts are dog obsessed, we cover A LOT of ground in this interview ranging from how much weight a dog should carry, to what ages are appropriate for dogs to go on long distance hikes, to which breeds are best for backpacking, and more. 

If you hike with your dog, are planning to one day hike with a dog, or just want some juicy #dogfacts, you will enjoy this conversation. We introduce a new segment, Dad Stuff, answer some burning listener questions, and chat about winter thru-hiking the AT.   

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Interview with Dr.Kristina Kiefer


QOTD: What is something in your car’s center console that you derive too much joy from? 

00:07:00 - How did you get into veterinary school and when did you know that animals, specifically dogs, were a passion of yours? 

00:08:06 - How competitive is vet school? 

00:08:48 - Is vet school cutthroat like law school? 

00:11:03 - What is the most common procedure that you do? 

00:11:38 - Are there dogs that are more likely to tear their ACL’s?

00:11:55 - Which breed is at the vet most often? 

00:12:30 - What goes wrong with the dogs with smushed faces? 

00:13:18 - Is it true that mutts are generally the healthiest? 

00:14:47 - Where do Australian shepherds fall on the scale of health? 

00:15:47 - Is there an inbreeding component to overbreeding?

00:16:52 - If you had to design the perfect trail dog, what would you pick? 

00:17:49 - How do you feel about those dog genetic test kits? 

00:19:04 - What are some of the key considerations people should take before bringing their dog on a thru-hike? 

00:21:03 - What signs would you look for in a dog that isn’t having a good time? What cues can you look for that your dog isn’t doing well on a hike?

00:23:21 - Is it true that you shouldn’t put more than 10% of a dog’s weight in their pack? 

00:24:44 - Do you have a recommendation for adjusting how much you are feeding your dog?

00:25:50 - What supplements were you giving your dog? 

00:27:04 - Do you use the same food on the trail as you do at home?

00:27:47 - How big is your dog?  

00:29:54 - Is there one ideal brand you would recommend? 

00:30:54 - What do you feed your dog? 

00:31:40 - Are there any specific ingredients you should look out for that will help or hurt? 

00:34:19 - Is CBD good for dogs?

00:36:09 - Is CBD something you would consider giving your dog? 

00:36:32 - Would you use CBD for anxiety for dogs? 

00:37:44 - Does Harper’s nose turn pink because of allergies? 

00:38:37 - Do you put sunscreen on dogs? 

00:39:15 - If someone was walking with a light-skinned dog is that sunscreen something they should consider? 

00:41:21 - What should someone consider before taking their dog on the PCT?

00:43:59 - Would you get your dog rattlesnake trained? 

00:48:08 - Do you get special booties for your dog? 

00:50:41 - How do you know when to put booties on your dog? 

00:53:05 - What is Musher’s Secret? 

00:53:24 - Would you put it on without the booties?

00:54:00 - Did you put anything on your dog’s paws overnight? 

00:54:30 - How did you keep your dog from licking off the salve? 

00:55:07 - Would you recommend someone go to the groomer throughout a thru-hike? 

00:57:31 - Do all dogs need booties? And in what conditions do dogs need them? 

00:58:45 - Can you do the run-through of the backpacking you’ve done with your dog? 

00:59:47 - What age should dogs start backpacking?

01:02:44 - What signs should people look for that their dog might be too old for hiking or backpacking?

01:04:38 - Are there clear cut signs that a dog is having a terrible time on a hike? 

01:08:07 - Would you recommend certain commands for people to learn before taking their dog on trail? 

01:11:44 - Do you have tips for someone trying to train their dog for trail commands? And how do you feel with positive reinforcement being the only thing you use to train your dog? 

01:13:09 - How do you train a dog (Harper) to go to your side or behind?

01:16:39 - Is there a side that’s easier to start with?

01:17:23 - Where can people keep up with Kristina? 

01:18:37 - What kind of services do you offer through your website? 




Trek Propaganda

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Is a Winter AT Thru-Hike Right For You? By Eloise Robbins

Horse Ostrich Facts

Dad Stuff! With Zach: Engine Lights


  • What’s the best beer for trail magic?
  • What’s the best piece of simple advice you have to offer?
  • How do you handle backpacking with lightning in Colorado?
  • Is there a chance mountain lions came back to the Appalachian mountains? 
  • I wanna thru-hike but I already wasted 10 years of my life, what do I do?
  • Most memorable view? 
    • Chaunce Tea Plantation Pic
  • What gives you the right? 

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