Enjoying the great outdoors with your dog can be a thrilling bonding experience. You may be wary of your own safety, but what about your dog’s? There are many hazardous situations when wandering the outdoors. Here are a few tips for hiking with your pet.
Watch out for poison ivy!
Just like humans, dogs can get an itchy, painful rash from coming into contact with the plant. If your pet ingests it, sudden diarrhea and vomiting can occur. If your dog develops an oozy, blistering rash or ingests poison ivy, seek veterinary attention; your dog could potentially develop a severe allergic reaction. The best treatment is thoroughly bathing your pet – while wearing gloves – and oral or topical anti-histamine medications. Never give an animal human medication unless directed by a veterinarian!
Pack enough water for humans and canines.
Hydration is extremely important for dogs; they don’t have sweat glands and cool themselves by drawing air into their lungs through panting. A dog needs approximately one ounce of water for every pound they weight – be sure to keep your dog hydrated on the hike! You shouldn’t let your dog drink from rivers or lakes as they may contain parasites, like hookworms and roundworms. Instead, pack collapsible water bottles and bring bottled water for you and your pooch. Doggy backpack are also available that contain built-in water bladders and have nozzles.
Keep an eye out for heatstroke symptoms:
- Extreme panting or wheezing
- Disorientation and staggering
- Bright red tongue or gums
If your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, move the animal to the shade and apply cool water, cold towels, or ice packs to lower its core temperature. Seek veterinary attention; if not treated, organ failure, blood clotting, and coma may result. Prevent heatstroke by keeping your dog in the shade and stopping for plenty of water breaks.
Prevent hypothermia by keeping your dog warm.
If you’re hitting the trails and it’s colder than 45 degrees, suit up! Insulated jackets are available for dogs in a variety of sizes and price ranges. Protective booties should always be worn when hiking with your pet to prevent injury to paws. When hiking in cold temperatures, watch your pet for symptoms of hypothermia:
- Muscle stiffness
- Lack of coordination
- Low heart and breathing rates.
Mild hypothermia can be treated at home by moving the animal to a warm room and wrapping him or her in blankets or using hot water bottles, warm baths, heating pads, or heat sources to raise the core temperature. Severe hypothermia requires veterinary attention, with internal warming techniques such as warm water enemas or stomach flushes. To prevent hypothermia, keep your dog out of water and limit time outdoors in cold temps to under four hours.
Hiking can be a great experience for you and your pet; just make sure you take the proper precautions, like bringing plenty of water, and keep an eye on your pet for signs of discomfort that could signal a medical issue. Happy trails!
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