Hiking safely with your dog
Tribune Opinion Columnist
TIPS FOR THE TRAIL
Keep your dog on a leash while hiking
Steer clear of poison ivy, oak and sumac (look for leaves of three)
Stay away from critters such as snakes, porcupines, bears, mountain lions and coyotes
Allow time for frequent rest and water breaks, preferably in the shade
After the hike, check for fleas and ticks
I just got a new pup (1 year old) from a rescue. He is my first dog and I want to take him hiking. Do you have any advice?
Whether planning a hike for the afternoon or for the weekend, remember that dogs need a few supplies to make sure they stay happy and healthy outside. Here are a few things to bring on your hike; please keep in mind that a longer jaunt necessitates more supplies:
Fresh water and a collapsible bowl
Food and treats
Current ID tags and a well-fitting collar
A sturdy leash for walking or securing your pet to a specific area
A proper car restraint, like a kennel or seatbelt
A bed or blanket to lie on
Doggie bags for waste
Pad-protective booties for rocky/rough terrain, snow, ice, cacti or nettles
First aid kit
Towel to clean your dog
Snakebite kit, if appropriate for your area (there is a rattlesnake vaccination for dogs; check with your veterinarian)
Dog sunscreen and hat
Doggie backpack for sharing the load, use only if your dog is used to doing this
For proper fitness and endurance, train your dog first with small hikes. For those not used to the altitude, consider that there might be elevation changes on some trails. Be sure that dogs are allowed on the trails you plan to hike and take note of the nearest emergency veterinary clinic in the area if you are not hiking in your hometown.
Stop frequently and offer your dog water throughout your hike. Don’t feed your dog a large meal before a hike — instead, feed a portion of their meal and supplement treats throughout the hike. Also, avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day and keep walks to a reasonable pace and distance. Watch for signs of overexertion, such as excessive panting, drooling, weakness or bright red gums. Also look out for hypothermia, frost-nip, and injury to paw pads, lameness and exhaustion.
Don’t forget to check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is up-to-date on their vaccines, flea and tick preventives (depending on the area you are hiking), and properly microchipped before you head out on a trip. You never know what your pet can pick up in the great outdoors. Many parasites and viruses are shared by wild animals, such as distemper, parvo, lepto, intestinal worms, fleas and ticks.
If you can, hike where there is shade and some water along the way for cooling paw pads. Avoid areas that permit hunting. For smaller or older dogs, forego an overly strenuous hike. For dogs with arthritis or medical conditions, consult your veterinarian.
With a little planning, hiking with your dog can be a rewarding experience for both of you. Along with providing exercise, you’ll be spending quality time together. Just be sure to head out prepared.
CALENDAR PHOTO CONTEST
There are only three weeks left to enter your fabulous Tahoe pet in this year’s Tahoe Pets Calendar and Playing Card contest. Enter online at http://www.laketahoehumanesociety.org or drop by the office. It’s a fun way to support Lake Tahoe Humane Society and help them help our local pets in need.
Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via email to AskHenry@LakeTahoeHumaneSociety.org or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit http://www.Facebook.com/LakeTahoeHumane SocietySPCA, http://www.Facebook.com/Hopeful.Henry or http://www.twitter.com/LtHumaneSociety.