10 Dog Hiking Safety Tips

It’s sunny and a perfect 75 degrees outside. What’s on your mind? If you’re like me, it is deciding which trail to hike next. The next thing to worry about is who to bring on the hike. Your furry best friend is sitting by your side, silently urging you to bring him/her along on your next adventure. Of course you want to bring your dog with you on the journey, but there are a few things to consider in terms of hiking safety tips for your pet before you head out.

Whether you are planning a short day hike or a weekend trip, remember that dogs need to be taken care of in the great outdoors just as much as humans do to ensure their safety. A happy and healthy dog in turn makes a happy owner.

Hiking Safety Tips For Dogs

Water

There have been many instances of dogs dying from dehydration on trails all across the United States. Just as humans need a sufficient amount of water to survive while hiking outdoors, dogs need plenty of water too. It is important to stop often and offer your dog water throughout the entirety of your hike, even if you aren’t feeling thirsty yourself. Bring fresh water and a collapsible bowl to ensure your pooch is properly hydrated.

Overexertion

Keep an eye on your dog’s health throughout the entirety of your hike. It can be tricky to know if your dog is over exerting since dogs don’t sweat like humans. They can’t eliminate heat from their bodies which is why they handle exercise in cold climates much better than even moderate heat. When a dog cant eliminate heat, their internal body temperatures rise and can lead to heat stroke. Watch for signs of overexertion which may include excessive panting, drooling, weakness or bright red gums.

Vaccinations

Make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccinations before you head out on the trails. Many parasites and viruses are shared by wild animals such as lepto, intestinal worms, fleas, ticks, parvo, and distempter. If Lyme disease is endemic to your area, consider getting vaccines for this before heading out. Check with your veterinarian prior to hitting the trails to see if your dog has the proper vaccinations needed to be in the great outdoors.With this also being said, avoid hiking with your dog if he/she has open wounds.

Collar

Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an ID tag at all times. Ensure your contact info on his/her collar is also up to date. Although it is unlikely your dog escapes your clutches, it is possible and therefor you need to prepare for the worst.

Standing Water

Do not allow your dog to drink from areas of standing water. Standing water often cultivates parasites and other bacteria that can be harmful and even fatal to your dog. To be safe, only allow your dog to drink water you brought.

Research

Before heading out in backcountry, ensure you have done your research. Know where the closest veterinary clinic is in the area in case your pet gets sick or injured. You should also research the hike prior to getting there. The biggest bummer would be to arrive at a trailhead only to find they do not allow dogs. A little research could prevent this travesty from happening.

Trail Manners

Keeping your dog on a short leash isn’t enough to ensure their safety. You should also be sure to keep her calm as other people and dogs pass by. Be aware of situations that may aggravate or upset your dog best friend. If he or she is aggressive around other dogs, be sure to avoid any dogs passing by you on the trail. When trying to train a dog on trail manners, start with trails that don’t get a lot of foot traffic or go off-season. Even if a trail doesn’t require leashes, consider keeping your dog on one until he/she is fully trained and you feel 100 percent comfortable letting him/her roam free.

Dog Booties

Dogs like to have their feet protected too, even if they can’t voice it. Rocky terrain can cut dog’s paws. Likewise, salt-soaked streets can also damage paw pads. If you live in a region that snows, dog booties can help protect your pooch from getting too cold. Insiders tip: test out your dog booties on short walks and hikes before going on any big trips. It may take a few tries to find the right pair that don’t fall off your dog while he/she is tromping about.

Post Trip

When you’ve completed your hike, check your dog’s fur for ticks, burrs, and cuts. If you do find a tick, contact your vet as there are different dangers for pets regionally. A vet can help you decide if you should remove the tick yourself or come into the office. Some dog owners opt for washing their pets in medicated shampoo after the hike, but most dogs will be fine with a regular bath.

Packs

Many sources recommend having your dog carry a light pack to both alleviate some weight off your shoulders and to make them feel useful. A general rule of thumb is healthy and young dogs can carry up to 25% of their weight. Some breeds can carry up to 10% or 15% more, while other breeds aren’t’ built to carry much at all (source). The amount of weight you should pack also varies with age. If you have questions or concerns, consult your veterinarian.

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