With Proper Planning- A Hike with Your Dog Makes for an Enjoyable Outing

Summer is here! You and your pet may be anxious to get out and have some fun in the sun. Hiking is a great opportunity for enjoying the outdoors and provides a physical challenge to boot. At the same time, there are dangers such as dehydration or losing your pet. If you are planning an outing with your pet be sure to bring some of these essential supplies to keep him happy and safe in the great outdoors.

  • Fresh water and a collapsible bowl
  • Food and treats
  • Current ID tags and a well-fitting collar
  • A sturdy leash for walking or securing your pet to a specific area
  • A proper car restraint like a kennel or seatbelt
  • A bed or blanket to lie on
  • Doggie bags for waste
  • Pad protective booties for rocky/rough terrain, snow, ice, cacti or nettles
  • First aid kit
  • Towel to clean your dog
  • Snake bite kit (if appropriate for your area)
  • Dog sunscreen/hat
  • Doggie backpack for sharing the load. Use only if your dog is used to doing this.

Evaluate the level of difficulty of the hike or excursion you are preparing for. You may be able to handle it, but what about your pet? You may need to start off on smaller hikes of lesser difficulty or shorter distance to start. As your pet completes these challenges he will be ready to take on more challenging ones.

Adding a doggie backpack offers more challenge to your pooch while giving him a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. The key is starting off with a lighter load and increasing it over time as he becomes conditioned.

Consider that there might be elevation changes on some trails. Be sure that dogs are allowed on the trails you plan to hike and take note of the nearest emergency veterinary clinic in the area.

It is important to stop frequently and offer your dog water throughout your hike. Don’t feed your dog a large meal before a hike instead, feed a portion of his/her meal and supplement treats throughout the hike.

Don’t forget to check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is up-to-date on his/her vaccines, as well as flea and tick preventives, and properly microchipped before you head out on a trip.

You never know what your pet can pick up in the great outdoors. Many parasites and viruses are shared by wild animals, such as distemper, lepto, intestinal worms, fleas and ticks.

Also, avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day and keep walks to a reasonable pace and distance. Watch for signs of overexertion, such as excessive panting, drooling, weakness or bright red gums. Also look out for hypothermia, frost-nip, injury to paw pads, lameness and exhaustion.

While on the trail remember to:

  • Keep your dog on a leash at all times while hiking
  • Steer clear of poison ivy, oak and sumac (look for leaves of three-and let them be!)
  • Stay away from snakes, porcupines, bears, mountain lions and coyotes
  • Allow time for frequent rest and water breaks, preferably in the shade
  • After the hike, check for fleas and ticks

In general, sporting, herding and working dogs are good hiking breeds. This includes: Beagles, German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Golden/Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Huskies, Malamutes, Border Collies and Australian Shepherds.

With a little planning, hiking can be a rewarding experience for both you and your dog to spend quality time together and build a stronger bond of trust.

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