Hiking With Your Dog
Hiking season is here! Most dogs love to hike along with their owners. Here are a few safety precautions to keep your four-legged hiking companion healthy.
Before you go, take time for some preventative medicine:
- Make sure your dog is current on vaccinations and is on a good flea and tick preventative. Ticks are very active right now, and carry many serious diseases. We are recommending Bravecto for our canine patients who spend a lot of time outdoors. Bravecto is a new, very effective chewable tab that will kill fleas and ticks on your dog for 12 weeks.
- Make sure your dog is in shape for hiking. Dogs that do nothing but lie around all day will get stiff and sore and suffer cramped muscles if they hike difficult trails. If your dog is out of shape, start an exercise program slowly and gradually - like a daily 10 minute walk. Slowly lengthen the time and quicken the pace. Regular daily exercise is essential for keeping your dog in shape.
Keep your dog leashed on the trail. Leashed dogs are safe dogs. There are a lot of natural hazards out there - cliffs, sharp rocks, boulders, rivers and creeks to cross, wild animals. An off-leash dog is much more likely to be hurt or get lost than an on-leash dog. Other dogs may threaten your dog - especially ones that are not on a leash. If there is an altercation, you can quickly pull your dog away to safety. There may be wild animals. If your dog gets between a mother bear and her cub, it could develop into a dangerous situation for both of you.
AVMA recommends bringing along for your dog:
- Water and collapsible bowl. Pack enough for the entire day - approximately three liters of water for your dog's day hike. Drinking water from puddles, streams, or lakes is not a good idea for you or your dog. Like us, dogs are susceptible to water borne illnesses from drinking untreated water. Giardia intestinalis is a parasite that affects both humans and dogs. These microscopic parasites attach themselves to the intestinal wall and cause damage. Symptoms of Giardia infection (in both humans and pets) are diarrhea, gas, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting. It is also possible to be infected and have no signs of illness. Leptospirosis is another serious infection of dogs and people.The bacteria that cause Leptospirosis are spread through the urine of infected animals which can contaminate water or soil. Humans and animals can become infected through contact with this contaminated area, or by drinking contaminated water. Symptoms are a fever and dehydration, and which can progress to kidney failure. Leptospirosis can be prevented by keeping your dog up to date on vaccinations. If your dog develops any of the symptoms of Giardia or Leptospirosis infection post hiking, please give us a call as soon as possible. The earlier treatment is started, the better.
- Dog food and treats - Keep your dog well fed on the trail as he or she will burn more calories than usual. Bring extra snacks.
- ID tag and picture identification - Make sure your dog is properly identified with a microchip and/or tags should he/she become separated from you. A good idea is to put a photo of your dog along with their microchip number in your phone.
- Booties if you will be hiking on abrasive ground (such as basalt lava fields of the South Cascades), in areas where there is spiny, prickly vegetation (desert areas of Eastern Washington), or in snow. Choose booties that feature good,flexible upper sections so the dogs can easily bend their wrists while striding, and a tough, nonslip surface on the bottom to help them maintain good traction.
- Plastic bags - Be courteous and leave the trail as you found it. Packing out your dog's poop is good trail etiquette.
- Basic canine first-aid kit. Includes gauze pads, nonstick bandages, and a roll of gauze (could also be used as a muzzle) in case of cuts or pad wounds. Adhesive tape for bandages, tweezers and eye wash is also helpful.
Always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet's life until he/she receives veterinary treatment.
The staff at Kindness Animal Clinic has many hiking trails that we like to take our dogs to! If you need a suggestion of a hike to take with your four legged friend, talk to us. We'll be happy to share our favorites! Pictured above is Dr. Garver and Skye at two of their favorites : Lake Serene (on left) and Lime Kiln Trail (on right). Pictured below from left to right is Lake 22 (Chrissy and Ollie), Rattlesnake Ledge (Stephanie and Yogi), Wallace Falls (Erin and Deco), Big Four Ice Caves (KAC staff and dogs), and Bridle Veil Falls (Moriah, Chrissy, Molly and Ollie). Below is Stephanie's Ariel and Chrissy's Ollie (hiking around Leavenworth). Happy hiking!