Would you climb Mt. Everest if you weren’t in shape? How about taking a long run if the temperature and humidity were high? It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to do either of those things, and in the same way it would not be good for your dog. It is important to remember that if something is physically challenging for you, then it certainly is for your dog as well.
Just last week, in North Vancouver, B.C., a dog collapsed while hiking with his 20-year-old owner. He became so tired that he was unable to keep up, despite his best efforts. Thankfully, a helicopter crew flew down and rescued him with a stretcher, but they still had to carry the dog three miles before they could airlift him out.
The lesson to be learned from this is that you have to keep your dog’s health in mind when walking, running, or hiking. Here are some things you should know before you decide to do get active with your pet:
First, you must determine that your dog is physically capable of taking part in the intended activity. If you have any concerns or doubts, be sure to consult your veterinarian. It is not recommended that you take a puppy under 18 months out for any kind of rigorous activity.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, be sure that your pet is up-to-date on all of their vaccinations and medications to prevent fleas, ticks, ear mites, worms, and other parasites from harming them. This will save you a lot of money in the long run on vet bills. You should also be sure to microchip your dog in case they get away from you or become lost.
Always make sure you bring a few snacks and plenty of water; you can never have too much. This will ensure that your dog stays refreshed. Dehydration is a big concern for all hikers and their dogs.
Check to see if your dog can handle the terrain that you are hiking or walking on. Environmental hazards, like cactuses or large rocks, can be dangerous if your dog has never experienced them before. If there are streams or rivers, make sure that your dog can swim if they have to. Not all of them are born with the ability.
Sometimes it is a hassle to use a leash, but it is really important to keep your curious dog from eating things that are poisonous. It can also keep them from aggressing onto other animals that you may come across; this includes wildlife and other hikers and their pets. Larger animals such as horses, or even cyclists, can be intimidating for your dog, so having them on a short lead will keep them safe from injury.
When you get home, be sure to check your dog closely for ticks, burrs, and other things that may stick to them. You may want to bathe them, or at least wash their paws, to ensure that there are no residual plants or other natural elements stuck in their fur. Stay safe, and enjoy the great outdoors with man’s best friend.