Hiking Dangers for Dogs
For outdoorsy dog lovers, hiking with your pet is a perfect weekend. You both get some exercise while having an adventure.
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It’s also a great way to bond with your pup. However, you need to be aware of where you are hiking and what threats you may stumble upon.
Bikes and Horses
If you choose to hike in an area that permits other uses, you need to be prepared. You and your dog could be sharing the trail with mountain bikes, horses, and riders. According to the ASPCA, hikers with dogs should move to the side of the trail and remain in a sit or stay while bikes or horses pass. You may want experiment and see how your dog behaves when faced with different distractions. Consider bringing some dog treats to get your dog’s attention. You want to stay in control of the situation so your dog doesn’t start chasing a horse or cyclist. Otherwise, your dog or someone else could end up injured. Initially, it’s best to keep your dog on a leash.
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Dehydration for a dog can be life-threatening. Make sure to always have water for both you and your pup. Take frequent water breaks. If your pet begins to tire during a hike, give them water immediately as this is one of the first signs of dehydration in dogs.
Too Much Sun
Dehydration, heat stroke, and sunburns can become concerns during a hike in hot weather. Keep the weather in mind before embarking on a long hike with your four-legged friend. If it’s too hot, don’t take the risk. If the heat is not extreme enough to stop you from hiking, remember to protect your dog as you would protect yourself. Ask your vet which sunscreen they would recommend for your dog, and keep an eye out for the symptoms of overheating. Excessive panting and difficulty breathing are a sign your dog needs to find some shade and a drink, immediately.
Make sure the water your dog is drinking is water you brought with you. Do not let your pet drink from a pond, creek, river or lake because there’s a good chance they will end up with diarrhea-inducing parasites, which can sometimes cause kidney and liver damage.
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Do your homework and be prepared before embarking on your hiking adventure. Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations. If your pet finds some water resource, be sure your dog is trained enough to obey if you say “no.”
Pre-hike recall training isn’t just important for preventing your pup from drinking pond scum — it could also prevent her from drowning. Lakes and rivers require a higher level of swimming skills than a backyard pool and can be hazardous to a dog who is already tired out from the trail.
Waterfalls and hot springs are beautiful and popular hiking destinations, but dogs — and their owners— don’t always realize how dangerous they are. Many canine companions have tragically died after going over waterfalls, and in some cases people have plummeted to their deaths while trying to save their pets. Lives have also been lost to hot springs. Multiple incidents have seen dogs unaware of the boiling temperatures dive in, and would-be rescuers killed or burned trying to save them. Cases like these are why some hiking trails, like those in Yellowstone National Park, ban dogs altogether.
Wildlife can be just as dangerous as water. An area inhabited by other animals often means your dog will have to hike on a leash if they’re allowed at all.
If your dog is running off without a leash, it is possible your pet may attract a bear. To bears and other predators — including mountain lions, snakes and coyotes — your four-legged pal is prey. You may want to rethink taking your dog into their territories.
Be Prepared and Pay Attention
As I mentioned before, do your homework.
Do some reconnaissance before taking your dog with you on a hike. Make sure the trail you choose is dog-friendly. Read the signs posted along the trail advising hikers of potential dangers. If a trail is marked “no dogs allowed,” there’s probably a very good reason.
Check out the Hiking Dog Breeds