As we move into summer, we are all excited to get our four-legged companions out into the Sierra. However, there are a few things to consider when taking our pets on a hike to keep them happy and healthy.
Conditioning: Pets, as well as humans, have to be conditioned for longer hikes. If your pet has not been hiking for long periods of time, you will want to slowly increase the distance they run or hike over a few weeks.
Heat: Heatstroke can occur even when temperatures do not seem too hot. Dogs do not have sweat glands, and they regulate their heat only through panting. Larger, overweight dogs are at greater risk for heatstroke. Take your pet on trails that have running water and/or carry plenty of water for both you and your pet. Heat stroke can be a life-threatening disorder. Signs include decreased energy, decreased appetite, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Contact your veterinarian if you see any of these signs.
Food: If your pet is much more active in the summer, you may need to increase his or her calorie intake. Be sure not to overfeed!
Location and parasite prevention: Your pet may need flea, tick, and heartworm preventative, especially if you travel outside the Tahoe area such as the Midwest or Southeast. Anecdotally, we are seeing ticks and fleas on dogs that have never left the Truckee area. Heartworm is also a common disease in the foothills areas such as Colfax, Grass Valley and Nevada City.
Terrain type: If your pet will be on a trail for a long period time on rocky terrain, you may want to get booties for him or her. Always check your pet’s feet after a long hike for any cuts on his or her pads. Licking feet constantly is a good indicator that something may be wrong.
Rattlesnake bites: Rattlesnakes are common in Nevada and South Lake Tahoe areas such as Lover’s Leap. Rattlesnake bites are a life-threatening situation, and your pet needs to be seen immediately by a veterinarian if he or she gets bitten. You may want to consider getting a rattlesnake vaccine if you take your dog into rattlesnake territory. A dog bitten by a rattlesnake must immediately be seen by emergency care, but the vaccines may give you a little more time to get to a clinic.
Vaccinations and boarding kennels: Ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, especially if you plan on boarding your pet. Kennels require up to date vaccinations, including rabies and bordetella.
Gina Kang, DVM, MS lives in Truckee and works at the Doctor’s Office for Pets on 10939A Industrial Way, No, 101, Truckee. She sees all pets including cats, dogs, reptiles, birds and small mammals. More info at doctorsofficeforpets.com or call 530-587-5144.