Can I go hiking with my dog?

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Hikes are great, a must-have experience for any nature-lover. There is only one thing that can make a hiking trip better- a hiking trip with your dog! After all, what dog lover would truly enjoy a day out in the wild without their furry little one right alongside them?

Hiking Tips for Dogs

No matter what the forecast or where you plan on venturing, hiking with your furry companion can be a great experience for the both of you, a must especially for your pet! Not only will your dog cherish this new bonding experience with the parent he is so devoted to, but your little one will be able to experience a great many things many dogs never get to.

Because your pup gets to share this experience with you, it will only serve to strengthen your relationship- as long as the trip runs smoothly. Check off the points on our list below, and you’ll be prepared for almost anything!

Check the Weather Forecast

If you’re planning on a lengthy trip consisting of a few miles or more, this can make a huge difference. Be sure to prepare for the expected temperature, and be aware of any possible complications (storms, rain, drop in temperature).

To avoid the heat, try to plan your hikes in the morning or closer toward the evening (before dark, of course). It tends to be hottest during the middle of the day, and while that might be fine for you, your pup might not enjoy it nearly as much.

Plan Route Ahead of Time

Getting yourselves lost in the wilderness is one of the very last things you want to happen! If your planning on a small hike or walk through the local park, planning might not be overly necessary. If you’re trip is going to take place anywhere larger than that, you’re going to want to be sure of your whereabouts. Getting lost can be dangerous if you are alone, but even more so for a dog who depends on you for survival.

Read the Trail Rules & Regulations

Always check the park or trail rules before you venture out, so you can minimize any chances of running into trouble. Sometimes dogs aren’t allowed at all, and there are often restrictions if they are. Sometimes you can face fines for not cleaning up after your pet. Knowing park rules and etiquette is always integral!

Even if your dog is allowed off leash, it is probably a good idea to keep him leashed by your side for his safety, if nothing else. Where as your pet might be well trained and behaved, others might not be; you never know.

Pack Plenty of Water & Travel Bowl

You can go for days without food, but this is one thing neither of you want to go without- especially your pooch! Remember to pack water even if it is a small walk of a few miles, but especially if it is longer. You’ll know when you are thirsty, but it might be harder to tell with your pet- so don’t take any risks here!

  • Most pet stores sell rubber foldable travel bowls.
  • Watch your pet’s panting and body language. It’s also a good idea to recognise any signs of heat exhaustion.

Current Vaccinations

Check with your veterinarian before any lengthy trips outdoors. There are all kinds of dangers out there and countless animals you could come into contact with, so be sure your pet is healthy and well prepared!

Don’t forget flea, tick & heartworm preventative!

Pet First Aid Kit

It’s always a good thing to be prepared for any emergency! The American Kennel Club talks in depth about pet first aid, and what you should carry with you here. These things are simple to get hold of, and where as you probably won’t actually need them, your pet’s life could depend on them if you do!

Consider a Harness or GPS Tracking Collar

We are all used to dog collars, but body harnesses not only offer better control, they are often reflective, don’t cause an immediate danger to your dog if they catch on something (like a branch), and are the norm for avid pet-hikers. If you are going to invest the time required for a lengthy hike or camping trim, a reflective harness is a great addition!

There are also a few GPS tracking collars for dogs designed specifically for lengthy walks and hiking. The Petfon GPS tracker for example, will use your mobile phone to track the dog, rather than needing to connect to a network. The collar attachment comes with built in LED lights which you can remotely activate if your dog wanders off when it’s dark.

Heat Exhaustion

Believe it or not, dogs don’t sweat like humans. They do have sweat glands on their paw pads, but dogs perspire through panting more than anything else, which is how they regulate their body temperatures. You can usually tell, at least partially, how ‘hot’ or exhausted a dog is by their rate of panting, or heavy panting.

Outward signs of heat exhaustion/heat stroke:

  • Heavy or excessive panting
  • Unusual or heavy vomiting
  • Bright red tongue, pale gums
  • Increased salivation
  • Lethargy, sluggishness

Your Dog’s Double Coat

Even if your dog has a heavy double coat, never shave it! This might not make much sense at first. You probably think less hair means cooler, right? A dog’s coat evolved to actually keep him cooler during the summer, trapping in air, protecting against harmful rays and guarding against insect bites. If you shave your dog’s coat, he loses that protection and is actually more likely to overheat. On top of that, his two hair types may not grow back at the same rate ever again.

Conclusion: Enjoy Your Trip!

You’ve packed, planned ahead, looked into the weather forecast, even saw your veterinarian. Remember, you’re not just looking out for yourself out there, but your dog also!

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