Please note, this question covers different material than that in Camping with a dog for the first time.

I've often seen dogs on high-altitude multi-day hikes with their people, many of them (the dogs) carrying packs. Part One of my question is:

Does a dog require about the same acclimatization time to high altitude (8,000 to 12,000 feet) as a person does?

Part Two of my question:

At these altitudes, how many days of his own food can a dog carry? Water is not a factor; there is always a nearby stream.

I don't have any immediate plans to go out with a dog, but I am intrigued.

  • Not sure if the type/size of dog matters here, but in my experience, water is the bigger factor. My dog can carry a weeks worth of dried dog food but only a days worth of water. Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 19:44
  • @Chris Mendez modified Q to say H2O is abundant.
    – ab2
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 19:48
  • 2
    I don't have any specific info about dogs, so I'll just make this a comment, but -- 8,000 to 12,000 feet is not really high altitude, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. For comparison, the cabin in an airplane is equivalent to about 8000 feet, and nobody worries about acclimatization before getting on a plane. Acclimatization is a whole suite of physiological adaptations, almost all of which take many days or even a week or two to work completely, so when people talk about acclimatizing by spending one day at altitude or something, it's probably just a placebo.
    – user2169
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 23:31
  • They don't do anything on a plane except eat and drink and sleep. As for when one feels it -- anyone not acclimatized is going to feel 12,000 feet, if not 10,000 feet when hiking uphill with a pack.
    – ab2
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 1:33
  • Technically speaking in medical terms high altitude is above 2500m (8300 feet), so from thereon you need acclimatisation and symptoms of AMS can appear.
    – imsodin
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 7:43

1 Answer 1


For part one, there are two aspects to consider: one is the regular old hit to the cardiovascular system that makes you tired more quickly because the air is thinner. This will affect you and your dog pretty much equally. However, many dogs will run until they are totally exhausted whenever there is adventure involved, so this aspect at worst it will just slow your dog down and he'll walk with you instead of excitedly running around.

Two, there is also the issue of altitude sickness, which is a little bit different, with potentially serious symptoms. Like humans, dogs and other animals can get altitude sickness. However, they aren't able to speak and tell you that they are feeling nausea or has a headache. This aspect is important because many of the symptoms are similar to just getting tired, which unless you take steps to prevent, your dog will happily run itself to exhaustion, which will also aggravate the symptoms.

With that said, altitude sickness is not really a concern until 8000 feet, and if your dog is in real good athletic shape, he should be fine to 12,000 ft, but keep a close eye on him. I think too if you do your hike with your dog on leash, everything should be ok.

As for part two, from most dog packs I've seen, and from the packs I have for my dogs, you can pretty much jam them completely full of food and or water, and they'll hardly bother your dog. After all, your dog has more important things to sniff and explore than to worry about a little bit of junk he's carrying. I think my dogs could easily carry a weeks worth of food in terms of mass, and have plenty of hauling capacity left, though that is about the limit in volume of the packs I have. You will however need to supply them with plenty of water, which is also important in staving off altitude sickness.

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