Summer isn’t over yet and taking your dog on a hike is beneficial for both you and your 4-legged friend! Hiking is the ideal activity for most dogs, they get to exert more energy than a normal walk as the terrain is uneven, on an incline, and the scenery is ever-changing so the smells and sights are endless and interesting to your pup!
Before you and man’s best friend head out on the trails you should first consider if your dog is fit enough to hike along with you! Make sure you know your dog’s limits and what signs they exhibit when they’re exhausted, your pup will want to keep up with you so they may not take the breaks they need when they’re having fun!
What to Pack
The first step to a successful hike is in the preparation, as lame as that sounds, you don’t want to be stuck halfway up a mountain and realize you’ve forgotten something. Most of the same things you would pack for yourself you also need for your dog!
- LOTS of water, possibly a dish if your dog doesn't like to drink from a bottle
- Dog waste bags, what you bring onto the trail has to leave with you
- A leash, most hiking trails have mandatory leashing
- Some treats and snacks, hiking is hard work and your dog will be working up an appetite!
While these items seem obvious, there are some things your dog may need that you could overlook. Carrying a first aid kit is smart both for you and your dog, worst-case scenarios happen and you want to be prepared!
Prepare For the Unexpected
A hiker's worst fear is getting injured on a trail and not being mobile enough to make it down to the trail-head, but what would happen if your dog was injured and was unable to continue on their own? Could you safely carry him down without further injuring him or yourself? The Walkin’ Pet Transport Stretcher is the perfect addition to your first aid kit for those worst-case scenarios.
Pawfect Paw Care
Booties are an excellent option for hiking dogs, the terrain is rough and can chew up your pup’s feet. The Walkin’ All Weather Booties are perfect as they keep your dog's paws clean, dry, and protected and are secure enough, with the double adjustable straps that you don’t have to worry about your dog shaking off a boot or losing them in a river.
If your dog is anti-boot, a paw salve is a great post hike treatment. The Beezleys Butter is an organic, beeswax salve for your pup's paws and nose to soothe and condition and prevent any cracking!
Hiking With Your Handicapped Dog
Just because your dog is on wheels doesn’t mean he should stay home! Hiking is a great form of exercise, even for handicapped pets. We love seeing animals “off-roading” in their wheelchairs. Noodle, who was found paralyzed as a stay, is always on some form of an adventure with her mom, dad, and her brother!
A modification that can be made to your pooch’s wheelchair to make it more adaptable for your adventurous lifestyle would be getting a set of air-filled tires for your wheelchair. The air-filled tires have a thicker tread so the wheelchair would be easier for your dog to pull up inclines and over rough terrain.
Signs of Distress in Dogs
This is a very common ailment for dogs that owners should always know the symptoms for, whether you're hiking or not! Heat exhaustion is what happens when your dog gets too hot for their system to cool themselves down, essentially overheating.
Signs you should be aware of are excessive panting and salivating, becoming warm to the touch, staggering, and becoming unable to get up or refusing to move. The best thing to do if you notice these symptoms is to stop, let your dog rest and give them plenty of water. If there’s running water nearby, you may want to let them lay down in a shallow section to cool down their body temperature.
Did you know that your dog can get sunburnt? While all dogs run the risk of sun burn, if your dog has a short, thin coat they are more at risk for burns! There are dog sunscreens you can use or a white, sun reflecting vest will do the trick for when you are going to be in prolonged sun exposure.
While we know the adage “leaves of three, let it be” your pup doesn’t! Dogs are curious and will smell anything they can get their snout close too, so be sure to keep an eye out for poisonous plants that may cause discomfort or be deadly to dogs.
The same can be said for the other animals in the forest, research the area you are hiking in to be aware of any poisonous snakes or bugs that your dog could come in contact with hiking.
Finally, you will want to thoroughly check your dog for ticks after you get home from your hike. Ticks carry Lyme disease, Canine Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and more that can cause paralysis, fever, seizures, vomiting, and heart and kidney disease. Even if you have treated your pup with flea and tick medicine it's always best to check your dog after they have been outside.