Hiking With Your Dog: Tips and Tricks

Exploring the outdoors is always better with your furry friend by your side.

Hiking Dog There are many great dog-friendly trails across the country that you and your dog can explore near home or on the road. You can spend hours together taking in scenic views while exercising. It’s a great bonding experience, but Fido may sniff into trouble if you’re not fully prepared.

Andrea Servadio, co-founder of Fitdog Sports Club, says, “Let your dog have fun and explore.  But at the same time, don’t let them mull around and sniff too much. You are out there for exercise, so keep up a good pace so both of you get the maximum benefit.
Before you hit the trails, make sure you’re well prepared. Servadio shares a few tips so you and your dog can enjoy an active outdoor adventures.

Watch Out for Critters

The best way to avoid wildlife is to go on a trail that has a lot of foot traffic. This typically keeps critters away from the area. On remote trails, you want to make sure your dog is by your side. This way you can look out for any potential dangers in the area.  If your dog does not heel off leash, then it’s safer to have your dog on-leash.

Look Out for Dangerous Plants

Keep your dog focused on the trail, away from dense woods or foliage, because you never know what dangerous plants or animals are waiting there for your dog.  A main concern when out hiking is the Foxtail plant, a grass-like weed. The barbed seed heads can burrow into your dog’s nose, paws and body, eventually finding their way to organs such as the lungs or brain, which can lead to death. 

If your dog is around prickly plants, make sure to do full-body check after a hike and remove anything that has penetrated the skin before it turns into an infection or travels to any organs. 

Also make sure your dog is not eating any plants he finds out in the wild. 

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Check for Ticks

While you’re checking for plans make sure to do a thorough check for ticks. Certain ticks transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If I dog is bit by multiple ticks they are at risk of severe anemia or tick paralysis. If you find a tick on your dog, don’t touch the tick with your bare hands. The spirochete that causes Lyme disease can enter through the skin. Wear gloves and part the dog’s coat to look down close to the skin.

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Avoid Sunburns

Dogs get sunburns just like people.  If you have a dog that has exposed skin around the nose and mouth, or a thinner fur covering, be sure to use a pet sunblock. If they got sunburnt then you’ll notice a little red on their skin. It will peel a few days later.

Prevent Dehydration or Heat Stroke

When exercising with your dog, it’s important to watch for signs of dehydration and heat stroke – both of which can lead to death if not addressed.  Symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy

If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke or dehydration, go to your vet immediately.  Always bring plenty of water and look for shade to prevent dehydration. You can also use a cooling jacket (sold at Ruff Wear, Hurta or Kurgo), which keeps cool water against their fur and skin to keep them cool.

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Essentials to Bring on a Hike

Before you leave for the trails, make sure you have these basic essentials.

  • Water
  • A water bowl
  • Treats

Depending on the trail, you may also want to consider getting a pet-first aid kit. Kurgo sells kits that you can clip to your bag. If your dog has sensitive paws, you may want to apply a paw protectant like Musher’s Secret, a wax that provides a protective layer against heat and ice. Or you can purchase doggy booties.  If your dog tends to overheat easily or has black fur, a cooling vest is a must-have item. 

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