The warm weather has returned, which means prime hiking season has begun! If you have an adventure pup that is your faithful companion on the trails, you may be wondering what you as the owner need to do to make sure they can recreate safely as well. (Cue fireworks) We’re here to give you a guide to hiking with your dog safely!
Let’s start with the basics: Gear
What gear do you need to take your dog hiking with you? At a minimum your dog will need a collar and a leash. In El Paso county, your dog is required to have an up-to-date rabies vaccine and a county license, both of which can be done here at our office. Their collar should also include an ID tag with important information such as their name and your contact information in case they get lost. Beyond the basics, if your dog is a puller we recommend also utilizing a harness to prevent strain on their neck, and easier handling for you! One piece of “gear” we strongly recommend for all pets is a microchip-- if your pet gets lost without their collar or if their collar falls off, a microchip can be their golden ticket home! For more information about pet microchips, please ask any of our staff members! Lastly, poop bags. Always make sure to have a few poop bags on you so you may responsibly dispose of your dog's excrement in a designated receptacle.
How hot is too hot?
With temperatures rising, it is important for dog owners to know what times are best to take the pup outside. This question is slightly subjective, as every dog is different. Every dog should be monitored based on their tolerance to heat to be sure they are not being pushed beyond their limits. However, a good rule of thumb is to be mindful of how hot the ground is. The ground (even dirt) is always warmer than the air temperature during the day. Paved trails and paths will get significantly more hot than dirt, but both heat up quickly. For example, when the air temperature is 77 degrees, the asphalt can reach up to 125 degrees. Walking your dog on a surface that is too hot can burn their paws, if the burn is significant medical intervention will be required.
What about booties? Booties can be a helpful piece of gear to help protect your pet’s paws from dangerous temperatures! When shopping for booties, look for a pair that is breathable with good protection under the pads of their paws, such as the Grip Trex booties from Ruffwear. You will want to avoid booties that will trap in too much heat, or will not provide enough protection underfoot from high temps.
Before you embark on an adventure, it is important you know the key information about the trail you will be traveling on. A few things to know before you go include: Are dogs allowed off leash? How long is the trail? Will there be a water source for your pup or do you need to pack some? Will trash cans be available? Doing your research prior to your hike will make for a much more enjoyable hike!
Dogs are curious by nature, sometimes their curiosity can lead them to get into things they aren’t supposed to. If you have an adventurous pup, we recommend they are on a veterinary flea and tick preventative during the warmer months, and on heartworm preventative year round. As well, we recommend testing a fecal sample for your dog at their annual exam each year to be sure your dog hasn’t picked up any intestinal parasites.