"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."
– John Burroughs
There are so many fantastic ways to get out and enjoy nature. You can go fishing. You can strap the kayaks to your car and head for the river. You can go geocaching. Or, you can head to the trails and go hiking.
If hiking is your preferred way to commune with nature, you’re not alone. Lots of people love to put on their hiking boots and head for the mountains. And, if you want someone to accompany you as you hike, you can grab a friend – or you can bring man’s best friend – your dog.
Of course, if you’re taking your dog with you to hike, there are a few things to keep in mind – to help you, your dog, and your fellow hikers.
1. Make Sure Your Dog Is Healthy Enough for Hiking: If you're planning to take your dog hiking for the first time, it's essential to consult with your veterinarian beforehand. Your vet possesses valuable knowledge about your dog's overall health and can determine whether hiking is a suitable activity for your furry companion. They will assess factors such as age, breed, physical condition, and any pre-existing medical conditions, including the risk of heartworm in pets. This precautionary step ensures that your dog is in good health, minimizing the chances of any unexpected health issues during the hike and allowing you to enjoy the adventure together with peace of mind.
2. Bring Water and Food for Your Dog: Depending on how far you are hiking and how long you’ll be gone, you’ll want to bring food and water for your dog. Make sure you have plenty of water – especially during warm weather.
3. Make Sure Your Dog is Current on Flea and Tick Medication: Fleas and ticks are prevalent in the outdoors – so, make sure your dog is up-to-date with his/her flea and tick medication.
4. Consider the Lyme Disease Vaccination for Your Dog: If Lyme Disease is prevalent in your area, speak with your veterinarian about having your dog vaccinated for it. This vaccine requires two doses, given about a month apart.
5. Use Pet-Safe Bug Repellant: Nobody likes to be bit by mosquitos – including your dog. Find a pet-safe bug repellant and protect your pet.
6. Check to Make Sure the Trail Allows Dogs: Be sure to check the local rules and regulations about hiking with your dog. While some trails allow for dogs, others do not, and it is your responsibility to know which is the case where you are headed.
7. Keep Your Dog On a Leash: As friendly as your dog may be, always keep him/her on a leash. It will make other hikers feel more comfortable and keep your dog from running off.
8. Make Sure Your Pet is Wearing an ID Tag: Even on a leash, there’s the potential for your dog to get away from you. Make sure they’re wearing an ID tag so you can be reunited if needed.
9. Consider Dog Booties for Rough Terrain: Your dog’s paws are very sensitive. If the terrain where you will be hiking is rough, consider some dog booties. They’ll protect their paws and make them much happier hikers.
10. Pick Up Your Pet’s Waste: No one wants to step in your pet’s waste – be sure to pick up after your dog as they hike.
11. A Bath Might Be Needed After the Hike: Depending on the hiking conditions, your dog may very well need a bath when they get home. If you’re up for the task, give him a nice bath to remove and dirt and mud – or schedule an appointment with your favorite groomer.
Hiking with your dog can be so much fun! You both get to explore new places and enjoy all that nature has to offer. But before you head out the door, think about these things. These eleven reminders will help make hiking with your dog a fabulous experience – for everyone!