Hiking with Your Dog
The only thing better than spending a day in the great outdoors is having your best friend with you. Along with the exercise, a trek on the trails can deepen the bond between you and your dog and provide valuable sensory enrichment. Before you embark on your adventure, it’s important to be prepared. Here are 10 steps to take before hitting the trails:
- Check with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is healthy enough to hike.
- Make sure your dog is up to date on his vaccines and flea, tick, and heartworm preventives.
- Find a dog-friendly trail and be aware of any restrictions. The website www.alltrails.com provides trail guides and maps, and you can filter your search to include only trails that allow dogs.
- Keep your dog on a leash to reduce his chance of getting into trouble with wildlife or poisonous plants. It will also help other hikers feel comfortable when they pass you on the trail.
- Make sure your dog’s microchip is up to date and that he’s wearing a collar with his current tags.
- Start with an easy hike that’s no more than one hour long with a small incline. Look for trails with loops rather than long out and back routes in case your dog gets tired and you need to cut it short.
- Pack plenty of food and water for your dog and yourself to keep you both energized and hydrated.
- Never let your dog drink from lakes or streams no matter how clean they may look. They often contain parasites and other bacteria, which can be harmful or fatal to your dog.
- Bring along poop bags and pick up after your pet. Dog feces contains bacteria that can disrupt local wildlife and groundwater supplies.
- Pack a pet first aid kit and know the location of the nearest veterinary ER. Always check your dog’s whole body for ticks, cuts, and burrs when you get off the trail.