With the current events going on in the world, hiking is growing in popularity. It is a great activity for staying in shape and getting out of the house! When you take your dog hiking with you, it is incredibly important to take the extra steps to help keep them safe. Here are a few tips for keeping your dog safe while hiking.
Carefully Choose a Trail
Do your research before taking your dog on a hiking trail. Refrain from taking them anywhere dogs are prohibited. There are reasons that dogs may not be allowed in the area, including the potential of harming wildlife, dangerous water that they may drink, or watershed areas that house a community’s drinking water. Don’t bring your dog on a trail where they aren’t allowed, because there is a reason they aren’t allowed there. You should also ensure that you learn the rules in any area, such as leash laws and potential trail closures. Pick a trail that will be well-suited to your dog and try to avoid particularly rocky trails that can damage their paws.
Gauge their Fitness Level
Just like with how you would work your way up to an extremely difficult hike, you also need to condition your dog prior to doing these hikes. Work up to them so that your dog can build up their endurance and strength. Puppies, elderly dogs, overweight dogs, and dogs with flat noses should generally be kept to shorter hikes, where they are unlikely to overexert themselves. Pay attention to signs of extreme fatigue and be ready to cut the hike short if your dog seems to be struggling.
Keep Vaccines Up to Date
Dogs can potentially be exposed to many things in the wilderness, such as rabies or other conditions. It is critical to ensure that you keep your dogs up to date with their vaccinations before you ever take them hiking. You may also want to consider having them checked out by your veterinarian before the first hike and obtain regular examinations after.
Bring a First Aid Kit
When you are hiking, it can be tempting to only bring the bare minimum. However, it is crucial to bring a doggie first aid kit. This should include supplies like tweezers, bandages, and gauze. You may also want to include other products that can help to protect your pooch. Take care to bring pet specific products, rather than using your own on the dog. For example, using sunscreen made for humans can cause adverse reactions to your pet.
Keep Leashed Where Required
It is crucial to ensure that you are aware of any rules and regulations on a hiking trail. Always keep your dog leashed whenever required. Additionally, it is also courteous to keep them leashed on particularly busy trails. It is also important to keep them leashed at all times if they don’t listen particularly well or respond to your commands. You should also consider using a harness, especially while hiking. This harness will give you more control over them than a basic collar and it will also be much more comfortable for your dog.
Ensure that your dog knows some basic commands in order to keep them safe while hiking. At a minimum, if you are going to let them off the leash, they need to know the come and stay commands and respond to them consistently. You may also want to ensure that they respond to an emergency command where they drop whatever they are doing and immediately come back to you. Leave it is another important command for your dog before you take them hiking. This can prevent them from eating something harmful or chasing an animal while on the trail.
Bring Ample Food and Water
Pack ample food and water when you take your dog on a hike. Remember that you are packing for two. Estimate how much you need, then add a little more to be safe. Water is incredibly important for both of you to prevent dehydration. Keep in mind that your pet will also be burning more calories than usual while hiking, so they will require more food. A dog hiking backpack may enable them to carry some of their own stuff, which will lessen the burden on you. It is important to ensure that it doesn’t exceed more than about 10 or 15% of their entire body weight to prevent them from overstraining themselves.
Watch Them Carefully
Always watch your dog carefully to keep them safe while hiking. Don’t let them eat any plants along the trail, because they could potentially be poisonous. You should also keep them away from any untreated water. This water may contain harmful bacteria that can lead to illnesses and substantial problems.
Check the Weather
You should always check the weather prior to going on a hike. Be prepared to reschedule the hike or leave the dog at home if the weather is less than ideal. You shouldn’t hike if the weather is rainy, because it can increase the likelihood of slips and injuries. You should also avoid hiking when it is much too hot, like in the middle of the day. Learn the warning signs of dehydration in order to keep your dog safe while hiking. Some common warning signs of dehydration include a red tongue, drooling, pale gums, refusing to move, thick and sticky saliva, excessive panting, and fatigue. When they exhibit these signs, you should take a break immediately and give them water.
Ensure that your dog can be identified if they become lost. Microchips are a great option for this, but at a minimum, they should be wearing a collar with your contact information. Confirm that the information is up to date and that you will be able to be contacted if your dog is found.
At Borrett Animal Hospital, we are dedicated to the health of your pets. It is critical to ensure that you follow the appropriate steps to keep your dog safe while hiking. To get more information about how to keep your dog safe while hiking, contact us at Borrett Animal Hospital today!