This spring and summer, enjoy the sunshine with your four-legged friend! Dogs love Mother Nature, exploring, and getting exercise – why not combine all three? Hiking with your dog is an activity the whole family can enjoy. There are some hazards to hiking with your pet, and the most important thing is to be safe and have fun.
Some hiking trails and campsites don’t allow pets. Make sure you check before bringing your dog along. Call ahead to your local forest service station if you have any questions. Online directories like Bring Fido and Trails.com allow you to find dog-friendly hiking trails across the United States. Make sure to always pick up after your dog’s messes!
Consider investing in a hands-free leash or a dog harness to give you more control over your pet. If it’s colder than 45 degrees, outfit your dog in a warm jacket. Always put protective booties or shoes on your dog. These give your pet more grip on rough, uneven terrain and protect delicate paw pads from sharp debris. In hot temperatures, consider purchasing a cooling dog vest – soak it with water and as the water evaporates, your pet stays cool! A dog pack can help your pet share the load and carry his or her own treats, collapsible water bowls, and doggie bags. Be sure not to overpack your pet; 25% of your dog’s weight is generally the rule for young, healthy animals.
If your pet isn't used to extreme conditions – temperatures below 45 degrees or over 80 degrees – refrain from being outside for more than two hours. Some dog breeds are better in hot or cold temperatures. Short-nosed breeds just aren't up to strenuous activity, so leave your pug or bulldog at home. In snow, always protect your dog’s paws with waterproof booties or shoes. For hiking in deep snow, select a waterproof, insulated jacket that covers your dog’s belly to prevent hypothermia. Hiking in summer still requires protective shoes, but made of breathable material to keep your pet cool. Make sure to take frequent water breaks whether in summer or winter and allow your dog to rest.
Always keep your dog leashed when outdoors and keep him or her within a four foot radius. Nearly every state has poisonous snakes; don’t let your pet sniff in suspicious holes or burrows. When hiking in areas with bears or mountain lions, pay special attention to your surroundings and your pet – Fido may notice another animal before you do. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease to humans and animals; thoroughly inspect every inch of yourself and your dog after hiking. Skunks and porcupines also pose dangers to your pet, so keep him or her on a short leash when wandering though especially wild nature.
Hitting the trails with your dog in sun or rain is a bonding experience all pet parents can benefit from. If you're the outdoorsy type, consider investing in gear that will make hiking with your pet easier. Practice safety when out in the wild; keep your dog on a short leash and watch out for wild animals. Practice caution to avoid hypothermia and heat stroke. Most importantly, have fun with your pet!
Sickness and injuries can be very expensive at the vets. Think of pet health insurance and explore the cost for your furry friend. ExploreCost.com