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Many activities become accessible to you and your dog when the snow melts. One of the most popular summer activities is hiking! This can be an exciting activity and a great bonding experience, whether on or off the beaten trail. Fun summer activities like hiking can be great for dogs young and old, mobile, and those with mobility impairments. Picking the correct route for you and your dog and being prepared for the expected and unexpected is vital to ensure you both have fun and, most importantly, a safe outing.
How to Pick the Right Trail for Your Dog
After you’ve decided to change up your typical walking path with your dog and hit the trails, there are a few different things you need to keep in mind when picking the right spot for you and your furry pal. The first thing you will want to keep in mind is your dog. Their breed and build and normal activity level. Keeping these points in mind will help you determine the best path for you and your pup.
Know What Your Dog Can Handle
Understand your dog’s limitations. Hiking isn’t the best active for every dog. For example, dogs who have issues with heat and dogs who have difficulty breathing should not go on an off-trail hike or for extended hikes in high temperatures. If the temperatures are high, you need to keep in mind that if you have a dog like a husky/or St. Bernard may not do well and could be prone to overheating. For breeds commonly raised in cold or snowy climates, make sure you pick a day that isn’t too hot or humid. It would help if you also thought about going on a shadier path or one with freshwater where your pup can cool off. Early mornings or later afternoon hikes are good options as the sun is out, but it tends to be a bit cooler!
For older dogs, dogs with mobility issues, and dogs prone to breathing problems like Pugs and French Bulldogs, sticking to shorter trails without severe inclines and obstacles will make the experience easier and more enjoyable for your pet. You will also not have to worry about getting lost on something like a beginner trail. While exploring off the beaten path can be fun, it is not doable for every dog.
Before your take off on your next trail adventure, make sure you are packing everything your dog needs! Here are a few essential items that you should always have on hand when you hike with your dog:
Plenty of fresh and cool drinking water
A collapsible food and water bowl
Snacks for yourself and your dog
Your dog should always wear their ID tags with your current contact information
Leash and collar or harness
A first aid kit for yourself, but also your dog
Is there anything we’re missing? Let us know what items you never leave home without in the comments below!
A Dog Friendly First Aid Kit
While you will hopefully never need to use a first aid kit while on the trail for yourself or your pet, having one built for emergencies is always essential. While a dog first aid kit will require many similar things to one for humans, there are many safety measures that you need to consider when you pack. Make sure to carry vet wrap or pet bandages for minor cuts and paw injuries.
Lifting an Injured Pet While Hiking
An important thing to consider before your leave is how you can help your dog get back to safety if they are unable to walk on their own. Will you be able to lift your dog on your own? How would you safely carry your dog back to your car? Too often you hear stories of people (and their dog) needing to be rescued because they are unable to carry their dog on their own. If you are on a trail, it can be imperative to have supportive or assisting devices in case your pup becomes injured hiking. A lightweight rear support device, similar to something like the Up-N-Go support leash, is an excellent addition to any dog’s first aid kit as it is an inexpensive and small item that works for an extensive range of dog sizes.
In addition to a supportive rear harness to help in a challenging situation, having something like a transport stretcher in case of a more severe injury for your pet can help get them back to your car and into the vet’s office or ER. Cooling pads can also be great additions if you are worried about your dog overheating. They also come in shirt/neck handkerchief form, so having these on hand is a great way to help cool your dog down.
Hiking with a Handicapped Dog
Don’t let their wheelchair or splint stop them from enjoying the outdoors. Wheelchair-bound dogs can also benefit from hiking but may need to rest more frequently and be taken out of their wheelchair. Just because they are in a wheelchair doesn’t mean they can’t go off-trail or up a mountain!
The Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair is designed to help them through all kinds of terrain. The most important thing is to stay vigilant with your handicapped pet as you want to make sure their wheels don’t get stuck and that they are remaining safe. While not every dog in a wheelchair or not will want to hike, if your dog has that adventurous spirit, their wheelchair should not get in the way.
Don’t forget to check your dog’s wheels before you leave! Make sure there is plenty of tread on your dog’s tires. Before a long hike, some dogs will swap out their standard foam tires for air tires. The air tire is designed specifically for rougher terrain. And the air tires can make for a smoother ride for wheelchair dogs as they go off-roading.
If you are looking for a fun summer adventure with your dog, hiking, whether on a trail or mountain, can be a great bonding experience. Consider your dog’s breed and activity level before picking a trail and when to go. Before you go, make sure you have your essential equipment and supplies you need in case of an emergency. Don’t let your handicapped dog’s limitations stop you from getting outside! There are plenty of trails and adventures to be had with them, so no matter if they are in a wheelchair or not! Hiking and trail runs, there are great ways to get exercise and explore your surroundings with your best friend.