Taking your furry friend along with you just makes sense. To most, they are part of the family and what would a vacation be with one of the family missing? Just like small children, dogs need special attention and guidance. Even well-trained dogs can find themselves in trouble from time to time. Here are some great tips for keeping your dog safe on a hike, and making sure the whole family makes it back safe, sound, and together.
Use a Leash
Even if your dog is well trained, keep them on a leash. Not only is it typically a rule for trails and parks, it’s for their own protection. Keeping them on a leash keeps them from running off which saves them from all kinds of trouble. Although dogs are great explorers, they can get lost sometimes. They could also end up investigating the wrong kind of wild animal, such as a porcupine, and end up with quills in their face.
For others' protection, the leash is a good idea as well. Some hikers may be afraid of dogs, and even though your dog is a sweetheart and wouldn’t hurt a fly, they don’t know that. Especially if the person has been attacked by a dog in the past, they my panic when they see an unleashed dog. Then there are the people who will see a well-trained dog off leash and think, “well if their dog can, mine can!” This can result in their dog possibly attacking your dog. A leash also makes it easier to separate dogs that get into a fight, and equals less danger to you.
Bring Plenty of Water
Ensure you bring along water for your pet. Even if you don’t plan to be gone that long, it’s always good to be prepared. Be prepared for the event of getting lost or for the trip to take longer than you expected. Be prepared that it may get hot, and unlike you, Rover can’t just take off a layer of clothing. Dehydration can be very serious and, at times, fatal.
Signs to watch for when it comes to dehydration, according to the humane society, include excessive panting, sunken eyes, sluggishness, changes in behavior, and dry mouth and gums. There are a few tests you can do if you start to see this. The first is to check the elasticity of their skin. If you pinch a little skin between their fingers (not so hard as to hurt them), and let go, the skin should bounce back to flat. If it takes a while to go down, then dehydration is setting in. Another test is to press your finger against their gums until the skin turns white. When you release it, it should start to return to a normal color almost immediately. If they’re dehydrated it will take a while, and the more dehydrated they are the longer it’ll take. The most urgent signs of dehydration can be seen in the way they walk. Their hind end will become weak and they will become wobbly.
If your furry friend becomes dehydrated, offer them sips of water at first. If they get too much at once, they may end up vomiting. Vomiting could result in the loss of the water they just consumed and then some, making the dehydration worse. If your pal is refusing the water, make sure you get him to a vet ASAP for IV fluids.
Just as humans experience falls, bumps, and scrapes, so can your beloved K-9. Pack a first aid kit to treat any injuries or illnesses they may encounter. Antiseptic, bandages, and medical tape are the main things you want to bring. Other great things include tweezers, nail clippers, styptic powder, and towels. You can find a great list of things to use for your pet’s first aid kit here at the Humane Society’s website.
Dog Life Jacket
If you’re planning a hike along a river, stream, lake, or any other body of water, you may want to bring along a life jacket for the pup. While most dogs are natural swimmers, some struggle a bit. There are also other things such as current and water temperature that can affect their ability to swim. This is another one of those areas where it’s just better to be safe than sorry.
Watch What They Eat
Watch what your pooch eats along the way. Some of them just love to pick things up with their mouth. This can include things such as animal feces, plants, and other small animals. You never know what may be lurking in these things, some of which can be poisonous. So if you don’t know what it is, don’t let them pick it up. If they get something in their mouth that you think may be poisonous, take them to the vet right away. Some medicines to counteract poison lose effectiveness after too much time between consumption of the poison and administration of the meds.
Keep an eye on your dog just like you would a child and your trip should mostly be problem free! If your dog has never been out on a hike before, it may be best to introduce him slowly to short hikes and increase the distance each time you head out. This way you can monitor him and ensure you have enough of what you need for him to make it through the hike.