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Hiking With Your Pooch

Reviewed by Dr. Celeste Clements, DVM, DACVIM on Monday, August 31, 2015
Posted December 22, 2014 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

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Woman hiking with her dogHiking is a great activity for people and pets. Besides the beautiful scenery and fresh air, you get a healthy dose of exercise. Before you set out on a hike with your pet, here are a few things you should know. 

Know the Rules

First make sure the trail allows dogs. Some allow dogs but only if they are on a leash, while others do not allow dogs at all. Most trails post signs at the trailhead to inform you if pets are permitted. Know the rules before you hit the trail. No one likes to arrive at the trailhead with a very excited pooch only to find out that no pets are allowed. Although it may be tempting to break the rules, do so at your own risk. Most parks have rangers who are not afraid to issue citations. It may not seem like a big deal but a ticket can a lot of money. 

Know Your Pet’s Ability
Be sure your dog is in good shape and can complete the hike. Otherwise, you may find yourself carrying them back. Some dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds and small dogs, do not have much stamina and cannot physically handle strenuous hikes. Others are just sedentary and don't enjoy hiking. Years ago, I used to hike with my Doberman and Scottish terrier. My Dobie could hike for miles and miles and would never tire. My Scottie, on the other hand, loved hiking on level ground or downhill but would refuse to hike uphill. After having to carry my twenty-five pound Scottie uphill a few times, I learned my lesson and bought a dog backpack carrier. She loved it and I loved it because it was easier than carrying her in my arms. The main point is make sure you know your pet’s limits and don’t exceed them. 

Stay Hydrated
Be sure to bring plenty of water for yourself and your pets. Just like you, your pet will need to drink a lot of water while hiking in order to stay hydrated. The heat and exercise can lead to dehydration quickly if you and your pet are not drinking enough. Never assume you will find water on a trail. You never know when a stream or creek is going to be run dry. Also, drinking water from a stream

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Ruth has more than 15 years of experience in the veterinary industry as a companion animal veterinarian in private practice. Along with being a writer and media personality, she is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.