It is a great time of year in the mountains. The weather is wonderful, and the views are beautiful. What better time to take our furry companions hiking on the trails? As you pack your gear to start your adventure, keep in mind some important points for your canine hiker.
While the temperatures are usually pretty nice, we can still have some very hot days. High temperatures combined with exercise can cause serious problems in dogs, especially those dogs with stubby noses like bulldogs and Boston Terriers. Also, asphalt can be blisteringly hot, so if your hike includes any roadways on those especially hot days, schedule morning or early evening hikes while you have daylight.
Always consider the length and difficulty of your hike. Very young dogs or older dogs may not have as much stamina. Don’t get way into the woods only to discover Rover is out of steam and can’t make the three mile hike back home. Consider planning shorter, easier hikes initially to gauge how your pup will handle the exertion before trying more challenging trails.
So, what should you bring for Rover on this adventure? First, he should have a collar or harness with an ID tag just in case he gets away from you on the trail. Consider a reflective collar, harness or jacket which would make a runaway companion easier to spot. Dogs should really be kept on a leash because as much as we love our pooches, not every person or animal on the trail will feel the same affection. Retractable leashes should be left at home because they get tangled and will snag on the branches and plants in the woods.
Be sure to bring water for you and your hiking buddy. Putting ice cubes in the bottle before you leave will help keep water cold. Water bottles with attached troughs are available specifically for use by dogs, and it’s less of a challenge to actually get the water into the dog with one of the specialized bottles. Don’t let your dog drink from stagnant pools or other bodies of water. Parasites, fungi, and toxins can cause nasty diseases.
It’s a good idea to bring along some basic first aid items just in case there’s a calamity. Some bandage material and gauze can be handy for abrasions. Hydrogen peroxide can be used to disinfect a cut. Tweezers are good for picking out splinters or stingers, and a sock is handy for protecting a sore foot on the way home. Never secure a sock on a leg with anything tight like a rubber band. Tight ligatures of any kind can cut off circulation and cause permanent damage to an extremity.
While on the trail, be observant of the surrounding area. Here in the mountains we have snakes and bears, as well as other hikers and their dogs to consider. Snakes like to rest under rocks and bushes, so dogs who like to explore these places sometimes end up with a bite to the face. If your dog is bitten by a snake, take him to your veterinarian immediately.
Hiking can be a great activity for humans to do with their canine companions. Just take some time to plan your route and pack your necessities. When you get home, check yourself and your dog for ticks and wounds. We live in a beautiful area. Enjoy it safely!