Our canine friends are with us through thick and thin–they are here to love and be loved. The unique bond that human and dog have cannot be duplicated, and those of us who are dog lovers know how important their presence is in our lives.
Devoted dog owners seek to do fun and recreational things with our pets, as we know that they benefit just as much as we do from play and physical activity. One excellent way to spend some quality time outdoors while bonding with your furry family member is by hiking.
Of course, this pursuit can be dangerous business, especially if we haven’t thought through all aspects of safety when thinking about taking Fido on a hike. Dog health is of utmost importance as you head out into the backcountry; follow these tips for keeping your dog safe on your next outdoor excursion:
A checkup is in order. If you have any doubts whatsoever about your dog’s ability to keep up with rugged terrain, then by all means, get him or her checked out before you go on your next trip. Dogs feel pain just as we do, and it is important to watch your dog for signs of pain and fatigue. Get to the vet and get a clean bill of health before heading out of city limits.
Make sure you have a good flea/tick preventative. When it comes to flea and tick prevention, you get what you pay for. A simple Walmart brand will not work if you are out in mother nature; it is best to get a veterinarian-approved flea/tick medication to keep critters at bay that will make your dog miserable.
Make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can be contracted by dogs who spend time outdoors; it is important to make sure your dog is protected by a full panel of vaccines to prevent illness and infection. Relax and relish your time in nature, knowing that your cherished friend is protected.
Check the rules and regs of the trail you are going to hike. Dogs might not even be allowed on the trail you are considering; it would be nice to know this information before you actually set out on your adventure. Following the rules will ensure that you and your dog are protected, and you are not asked to leave the area prematurely.
Make sure you have proper identification on your dog. In the event that you and your dog are separated, it is paramount that you have proper identification on your dog to ensure that the two of you will be reunited. Microchipping is another layer of protection, as vital information can be stored on these internal mechanisms to correctly identify and even provide an address for a safe return home.
Outfit your dog with the proper gear. Dressing your dog in the appropriate gear is just as important as you picking out the right pair of shoes. A hiking harness and flexible leashes are ideal for rugged and uneven terrain, as it allows you both a bit of give while providing security on your hike. Booties are generally not recommended unless your dog already tolerates them; this will only cause stress and possibly friction that can lead to skin abrasions. Comfort is key for both of you.
Keep your dog well hydrated. Give your dog plenty of chances to stop and take water breaks, especially if the weather conditions are extreme. Dogs can become dehydrated even faster than you can; look for signs of fatigue and thirst, and provide plenty of fresh, clean water every time you stop for a break yourself.
Bring a snack! You wouldn’t dream of hitting the trail without a few energy bars, assume that your dog needs a little pick me up snack along the way too. There are plenty of portable snack options you can take along with you that won’t create a mess for either one of you, ones that provide balanced nutrition and a surge of energy that your dog may need on active days. Click here to find great dog treats!
Carry along first aid items specific to your dog. Items like antiseptic ointment, gauze, and anti-chafing lubricant are good items to take with you on a hike. Anticipate issues that may come up for your dog, and continue to monitor him as you move along the trail.
Before the trip home, do a thorough body scan. Before packing your furry friend in the car, do a thorough body check and look for fleas, ticks, abrasions, and paw pad damage that may have occurred on your hike. Having a clean towel on hand to wipe him down or to remove mud and other debris might be helpful in allowing your dog to feel clean and comfortable after all that hard work keeping up with you.
Congratulations! You completed a successful hike with your canine companion, and you both escaped unscathed. You mastered the art of hiking while prioritizing dog health, and you can look forward to many more outings as you enjoy the fun and freedom that come with enjoying nature together.