Whether you're swimming with your pup, bringing them along for a hotel stay or hiking your favorite trails, there's seemingly endless inspiration for dog-friendly activities. But, when planning out these adventures, it's essential to consider all the ways to keep your dog (and you) safe — especially when it comes to hiking.
After mapping out your ideal hiking adventure, here are some ways to gear up for the big day:
Consider your dog
Before committing to bringing your pup, think about if hiking is the right type of adventure for them. For example, suppose your dog doesn't do well while heavily exercising or is aggressive or anxious in new environments or around new people. In that case, hiking may not be the best activity for them. And if it's your pup's first time hiking, Dr. Emily Singler, Fetch by The Dodo's on-staff veterinarian, recommends looking for a relatively flat trail before choosing a more challenging terrain and ensuring your pup walks well on a leash, so they don't get lost.
Say your pet struggles with some health conditions, like a heart or respiratory disease, asthma, pneumonia, obesity or arthritis — or maybe they're recovering from an injury. In that case, Dr. Singler says that you shouldn't go on a hike without consulting your veterinarian first.
Research the trails
Do your homework if you've never been to the trail you're traveling to. "Pet parents should learn about the area they intend to hike around," Dr. Singler urges. "Like the type of terrain, whether other people or dogs are likely to be present, what the rules are regarding bringing dogs, how long the trail is and any wild animals that could be in the area."
Look up the weather
The weather is a major factor when hiking. Before you land on a day, it's a good idea to check the weather and avoid days when it's extremely hot or cold outside to prevent heatstroke or hypothermia, Dr. Singler says.
Make sure your pup has the necessary shots for their adventure
If your pup isn't up-to-date on their vaccinations or parasite preventives, you'll want to visit your veterinarian before hitting the trails.
Visit the store for dog-hiking gear
The right accessories can help the day go smoothly, Dr. Singler says. Here are some items to add to your hiking shopping list:
Each hiking trail is different, but there are some universal elements you should prepare for before heading out. Dr. Singler encourages you to be aware of the following safety hazards and try to prepare as much as possible:
"Depending on the emergency, pet parents may need to provide first aid to their pet by bandaging a wound, carrying small dogs if they become injured or tired or helping support larger dogs if they are having trouble moving," Dr. Singler says. "In most cases, an emergency warrants aborting the hike and possibly driving to the nearest veterinary clinic."
Pay attention to any signals your dog gives you that it may be time to head home. For example, signs like heavy breathing, slowing their pace, lying down or even refusing to walk any longer means that it's time to offer some water, let them rest and likely head back.
Hiking is a great way to make memories with your pup (and get your steps in, too). But it's best to plan accordingly before hitting the trails to ensure your adventures go off without a hitch. If you don't think your pup is up for hiking, don't fret. There are plenty of other activities you can do with your best friend.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we're there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.
Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash