Hiking with your dog. A few things…
Before you set out, be knowledgeable of your pet’s physical limitations
Some dogs will not demonstrate adverse effects like, amongst others, hyperthermia, hypothermia, exhaustion, or pain – know his physical limitations. Leashes ensure that your pet does not exceed his physical limitations.
Is Your Dog Physically Ready?
Ease your dog into the routine of hiking. If you want your dog to carry some of the load, start by having him wear a pack around the house initially, to judge his reaction. For puppies, older dogs or those in poor physical condition, consider leaving them at home. Chubby dogs need the exercise, but with discretion, as the added weight is a burden on the heart and skeletal system. Start with mini hikes, and less food! Puppies need the exercise to keep them from becoming bored and getting into mischief. A good rule of thumb is 5 minutes of exercise per month of age, twice a day. So, a 4 month old puppy needs 4(months) x 5(minutes) x 2(times) = number of minutes exercise in total per day (40 minutes).
Hiking with children, and your dog
If hiking with your family and your offleash dog visit Lynda Pianosi’s webistefor a wealth of wisdom on the subject: www.takeahikewithyourchildren.ca
Food and Water
Hydration is crucial for an active dog. Dogs are susceptible to waterborne parasites so be vigilant. Filtering the drinking water, or adding purification additives goes a long way in preventing gastrointestinal mishaps; treat their water just as you would if you were going to consume it yourself. A tip is to add (unflavoured) Pedialyte to your dog’s drinking water, making the doggie version of Gatorade, especially if the hike is to be long and/or strenuous.
The use of a high energy dry food that your dog is familiar with, is recommended for longer excursions (less weight to carry, and less poop). Consider making doggie power bars. There are many recipes online. Here is one. Energy bars for humans and dogs.
Disposing of Waste
Burying your pet’s waste away from trails and water sources is advised if overnighting. On a short hike consider packing it out with you (in the dog back pack if he permits).
Edible Plants of The Rocky Mountains
Take a peek at Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies Paperback – May 19 2000 by Linda Kershaw
Poisons on the Rocky Mountain trail
- Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, Stinging Nettle, Giant Hogweed
- Cow Parsnip
- Bloodroot, American Pokeweed, Poison Ivy, Water Hemlock, Giant Hogweed, Winterberry, Daffodil, American Nightshade
Dog Duds and Gear
- A jacket that is smooth on the inner surface (to prevent the jacket from creeping backwards on a short coated breed like a terrier)
- A raincoat may help to keep your dog dry, especially if the plan is to camp overnight, with low overnight temps.
- Dog Boots – comfort is the main concern with dog boots. The fleece booties used by sled dogs provide grip and protection in the snow,
- Personal Flotation Device? Use your discretion here.
- Doggie Back Packs – If your dog is to be the water bearer (for himself and/or others) the pack needs to fit well, be unrestrictive, be equally balanced, and not cause the dog to overheat. Include a silicon collapsible bowl in the pack. Dogs with physical limitations should not be carrying a pack. Cesar Millan Dog Pack
- A reflective collar/harness for low light travel.
- A leash that fastens to you via a carabiner
Most trails require that dogs be on leashes. Many (owners) have been tempted to ignore this rule, to the detriment of themselves, and their pets. It is important to ensure that your dog is on leash if the regulations stipulate as much when hiking trails are shared with mountain bikers and horseback riders. Courtesy on the trail makes for a great hiking experience for bikers, hikers, skiers.
Injuries while on the trail
- Paws – pads worn, blistered, or frost-bitten
- Dehydration – dry gums, lack of urination, panting excessively
- Hyperthermia – dark, thick coated dogs are particularly susceptible – cold water enemas provide rapid relief
- Hypothermia – cold lakes and rivers at any time of year
- Wounds – self-inflicted injuries or from wild-life
A First-Aid Kit
Consider attending a Pet First Aid Course at some time – it can be fun, and can take some of the panic out of a pet emergency. A first aid kit for a large dog will differ from a cat kit in the sizes of the bandages and other items, but the basic components are the same. Use your discretion; an at-home kit would differ from the one taken on the trail.
- Muzzle (gauze bandage is a good substitute)
- Hydrogen peroxide (3% strength)
- Examination gloves
- Antibacterial soap
- Digital thermometer (mercury thermometer is best)
- Sterile rinse solution (saline, used as wound flush or eyewash)
- Rubbing alcohol
- Syringes (1, 3, 20 ml – for flushing, and to dose water if needed)
- Lubricating jelly
- Cotton roll (Sanitary napkin is a good substitute)
- Pen light (or Cell Phone)
- Splinting item (from your environment)
- Blanket or Space blanket (for pet transport and temperature control)
- Bandage scissors
- Adhesive tape (hockey tape)
- First Aid ointment or cream (Viaderm is a great all-purpose cream)
- Gauze squares
- Gauze roll (doubles as a muzzle)
- Stretchy bandage (Vetrap is the best)
- Non-adherent sterile wound dressing (Telfa Pads or sanitary pads)
- Leatherman Multitool (Tweezers, pliers, scissors)
- Milk of Magnesia (to absorb poison should accidental ingestion occur)
- Health Record and Information in a sealed container or Ziploc:
- Proof of Ownership,
- Vaccine status
- Microchip number, and tag number, 1800 number for the relevant microchip company (Eidap, Avid etc)
- Tattoo number
- Recent photographs
After the hike…
- Check your dog’s body for ticks, and other objects. If you find a tick swift removal is imperative.
- Dogs that react to the grasses and bushes may require a bath or a dip in the lake or pool.
- Happy T(r)ails!