If you’ve been in Colorado long, then you likely do a lot with your dog! A common outing is taking our four legged kids on a hike in the mountains or other trails near the Denver area. You do need to get your dog prepared for such outings – especially in the mountains. Below are Dr. Shawn Seibel’s dog hiking tips to do before, during, and after your hike with your best friends.
Park or Trail Rules
- Make sure pets are allowed on the trail(s). While many trails are dog friendly, there are some that don’t allow dogs.
- Most of the trails that allow pets will have rules to help minimize changes to the environment and keep everyone safe.
- Restricting where you can go with your dog
- Ensure you keep them on a leash
- Picking up after your pet
- You can usually check on the park’s website to determine if pets are allowed and if there are any restriction. Similarly there are lots of great Apps like AllTrails that will have rules posted for different trails.
Preparing Your Dog
- You don’t want to take your dog straight on a 7 mile hike after she has been sitting on a couch for the last 5 months! Your dog’s activity level should slowly be increased to help with her stamina and also improve the durability of her pads. Otherwise, there’s a good chance she’ll tear her pads.
- When you take your dog hiking or camping they will be exposed to infections and parasites.
- Ensure your dog is up to date on all of it’s core vaccines (Rabies, Distemper, and Parvo).
- In most areas you will also want your dog to be vaccinated for leptospirosis. This is a bacterial infection that is spread by wildlife through their urine. The disease is acquired by licking/eating grass or drinking water (river, lake, pond, etc) where the wildlife have urinated. This infection can cause liver and kidney failure in your dog but it is also zoonotic which means you can get it from your dog too!
- While not an issue in Colorado, you may want to also consider Lyme vaccine if you are going out of state.
- We recommend year round heartworm prevention for ALL dogs. You should definitely ensure your dog is on prevention if hiking or camping.
- You should also consider flea and tick prevention – give it at least 24 hours before going on your trip!
Controlling Your Dog
- Make sure you have a good fitting collar or harness that will not slip off if your dog pulls or backs up. You should also have a short leash to keep your pet near you. Long leashes or retractable leashes are not recommended; they will make it harder to pull your dog near you if needed. Leashing your dog will also help prevent them from wondering off into areas off the trail where she shouldn’t be.
- You can even find harnesses that will allow your dog to help carry some of the supplies you need – most dogs can carry 10-20% of their body weight in supplies. The average 80 pound lab could help carry 8-16 pounds of water and food.
- Just like for yourself, it’s a good idea to take a few small snacks for your buddy. Consider full meals depending on how long your hike is going to be. You also want to ensure you have plenty of water for you and your pet to stay hydrated – especially at higher altitudes. It’s a good idea to also have a small first aid kit just in case Fido gets a cut or sticker. Don’t forget the camera so you can get some great selfies showing the view with your best friend!
- Give your kiddo a quick check to ensure there are no problems. If you notice any problems get her in to see a veterinarian for further care. Common areas/problems:
- Check all the pads to ensure none are ulcerated or peeling
- Examine the pads, toes, and legs for any cuts or bleeding
- Scan the hair and fur for fleas, ticks, and lice
- Observe her for any limping